Last month, much of America was appalled - and the world outraged - by a video that showed four Marines in Afghanistan apparently urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters.
It was, again, a reminder of our weaknesses, and how the madness of war can lay bare the ugliness within us.
This morning, another reminder - of our strengths.
Sgt. William Stacey, a Marine, was killed Tuesday by a roadside bomb while on patrol in Afghanistan. Stacey, a member of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, was stationed in Now Zad, a longtime Taliban stronghold that Americans were liberating.
Stacey, like many soldiers and officers, left a letter to be read if he were killed. The 23-year-old was the son of two professors at the University of Washington, and his parents gave The Seattle Times permission to publish the letter.
"My death did not change the world; it may be tough for you to justify its meaning at all. But there is a greater meaning to it. Perhaps I did not change the world. Perhaps there is still injustice in the world.
"But there will be a child who will live because men left the security they enjoyed in their home country to come to his. And this child will learn in the new schools that have been built. He will walk his streets not worried about whether or not his leader's henchmen are going to come and kidnap him. He will grow into a fine man who will pursue every opportunity his heart could desire.
“He will have the gift of freedom, which I have enjoyed for so long. If my life buys the safety of a child who will one day change this world, then I know that it was all worth it.”Peter St. Onge