14 Killed at Fort Hood, Not 13 As Reported. Why?

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Fourteen were killed at Fort Hood, not thirteen as reported all week long. Which official is correcting the death toll? I am. On the authority of being a mother who is multi-paragravida, meaning one who has given birth more than once, and on the authority of being a grandmother of five souls, I can, I think, count straight about this particular tragedy.

Francheska Velez was a 21-year-old woman, shot to death by Major Nidal Hssan at Fort Hood Army Base. Thirteen others were slain also.

Nine weeks into her pregnancy, Army Private Velez had just called her cousin in Chicago on Thursday to say how excited she was about the child growing inside her. By night, she and her child were both dead, bringing the death toll at Fort Hood to 14 total. Not 13.

It cannot be that media reportage follows a legalistic mean wherein a fetus is not considered a real person … as per damages in a trial, say of manslaughter, wherein a tiny dead child represents no lost income, or other actionable losses, for instance. Except for its very life.

It cannot be, can it, that such cruel death to mother and child are not reported accurately because someone fears calling a child a child, would lead to… what? Laws that hold life of a tiny child as real real life. That hold the life of a mother endangered in any way, as a real real life too?

All I know is that Cheka as her friends called Francheska, was– despite the ubiquitous ‘stern’ look in her formal military photo– a darling, smiling woman who like many of our young, took her work in the military seriously and had done a tour in Afghanistan, and was retuning home to Chicago to have her child.

Her large family was excited about the new little life growing in their daughter, cousin, niece, granddaughter, and friend, for Cheka was a nurturing woman who loved nature, wrote poetry and did all the things all our young do, including making love. And thus, came the tiny child, a boy child, a son, a soon to be first-born precious child.

And then the death man came for the oh so young Cheka and her oh so young son. And they counted Cheka among the dead, but no one counted her tiny son among the dead.

Except for those of us who do, remembering the darkening of the bright gifts this child was bringing.

We could make a sign in soft ground for this tiny child and all the tiny children who tried to come but could not make it, that in the least, the very least of what is humane, that all the tiny children be counted in full honesty and reverence.

CODA
This is a picture of a tiny nine-week old child like Cheka’s son who also was nine weeks old and with all toes and fingers, nose and eyes, legs and arms, heart beating.
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Author: DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

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15 Comments

  1. No birth certificate for victim no 14, if you haven't been born how can you be killed?

  2. You have it right, Dr. E.

  3. I think that is a simple prosecutorial-oriented move. Classifying an unborn child as a death is not uncommon when pursuing murder charges, but certainly not for, say, using the carpool lane (yes, I choose something banal on purpose, rather than something more in)

    It does show the inconstancy society has for the classification of unborn children, i.e., sometimes they are persons, sometimes they are not.

  4. You make a good point, dr.e. But, most important, what a caring thought!

    Dorian

  5. Well-said, Dr. E. I mourn this unborn child, as I mourn the execution of John Allen Muhammed, the D.C. Sniper. A consistent pro-life ethic can do no other.

  6. I think most on this board know that I am vehemently pro-choice. However, it is obvious from the story that this young woman had made the choice to carry this fetus to become a child, and she and her family were excited to do so. All her choices were taken away from her, and the loss of the fetus as well as the young soldier carrying it are equally heartbreaking.

  7. Yes, CP, the tragedy deepens………..and will deepen even more when the shooter, also a victim, is slain by the military. They may not do so, particularly by recent reports, as the powers-that-be seem to have opted on the side of increasing their intelligence rather than protecting their soldiers; that they were well aware of his activities and could have detained or questioned him, thereby preventing the situation from occurring. Maybe they were intending to track his activities in Afghanistan…… ????

    While heartfelt, the loss of Velez and the little soul inside her, particularly for her family, I feel it necessary nonetheless to say something about the underlying politics. The issue of whether or not one believes in the need/right for a woman to decide and the question of when, if ever, that should/could be done– colors the way one reads the story. I know plenty of mothers/fathers who have, for a variety of reasons lost the little life and all its promise, and who set out to mark their hearts and mark the ground of their existence and their passing. It is thought of more normally as a personal matter, and they do this with ritual, photos, drawings, prayer and meditation, among other ways individually determined. The newspapers, however, and large institutions, the military are operating under a different set of rules……….I guess we might call them what science has determined about a new life……I don't think it would hurt us to completely adopt and embrace a new way forward where all life is honored from conception………but be sure and involve the coroner, the funeral director, the doctors, nurses, insurance companies, etc., etc……

    What we are really taking about here is honoring and protecting innocence ………and if you go there with open eyes and open heart you will be crushed to realize what we do to each other as human beings is irreconcilable……….so we don't, we justify– some killings MUST be done, we say, softly, regrettably……

    I wonder if the innocence of the Major's family and friends should be preserved…..and I wonder if any American soldier of Arab/Muslim descent can ever be trusted again. And I wonder of this loss of innocence which I don't believe exists in the mind of the military, but in the mind of that Arab/Muslim soldier who thought, just for a minute, and maybe longer, that they/we trusted him, that he wouldn't have to look over his shoulder at every turn……..I wouldn't say it is complete, but how could the soldier not be aware of his birthmark, his origins, and the suffering of his own people, often at the hands of the military he is now serving under.

  8. This unborn child didn't murder 10 people.

  9. Yes, and dead men don't repent.

  10. But you think this guy will.

  11. Are you talking about John Allen Muhammad? He had 7 years to repent. If he didn't do it in that time, what makes you think he ever would?

  12. “I mourn this unborn child, as I mourn the execution of John Allen Muhammed, the D.C. Sniper. A consistent pro-life ethic can do no other.”

    I can sorta respect that, redbus – well stated.

    But I have to ask one question prior to absolute approval (not that you are looking for MY approval mind you):

    Is it truly the same to mourn the death of an innocent, as it is to mourn the death of a non-innocent?
    Yes, death is death. But you tend to feel differently when a loved one dies in a car accident than when they die of a long bout of cancer. Likewise, if a baby is killed, the feeling would be different than if a convicted cold-blooded murderer were killed.

    Perhaps I'm wrong. Regardless I do respect your opinion.

  13. Because “victim no 14″, as you call him, had a heartbeat that was pumping blood through his tiny body. If she had of lived and given birth to him on a remote island where there were no BIRTH CERTIFICATES, he'd still be a living person still capable of being killed. So your pathetic attempt at demeaning and devaluing his precious, innocent life is feeble and hollow.

  14. I'm terribly sorry for the grief Frankcesa's family is suffering but according my belief system, the soul does not enter into the fetus until the time of birth so IMHO this is a terrible and heartbreaking added loss, but I don't believe it constitutes murder.
    My two cents worth,
    Ghost

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