Friday, May 23, 2008

Remembering the fallen online

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The MySpace page of Pfc. Justin Davis lists his age as 21, automatically updating on his birthday even though he died at 19.

His mother, Paula Davis, said she stops by often to read the comments left by his friends and by strangers touched by his death.

‘‘It still gets some hits,” she said. ‘‘I love the fact it’s still up and people are still sharing, still leaving their tributes. It helps me think he’s still not forgotten. I go in and read it and look at it myself.”

She printed out all of the comments left for him. It took 500 pages of paper.

In the text-message-inspired vernacular of the young, a typical comment reads, ‘‘i was cleanin my room and i found the letter u wrote me while u was away..i started tearing such a crybaby..but..i miss u and ur always on my mind..”

Davis died on June 25, 2006, in Afghanistan. His photo on the page http:⁄⁄⁄yungsoldier187 has him showing off his left bicep in T-shirt and fatigue pants, holding his rifle in his right.

This has become a war where the dead are remembered publicly online, either on their own personal Web sites or on sites dedicated to their memory.

The family of Spec. Jonathan D. Cadavero, 24, of Takoma Park, killed in Iraq in 2007, created in memory of him, with photos, a biography, and a place for people to leave comments, much like a virtual guest book at a funeral home.

His father, David Cadavero, said he often looks up his son’s name online and reads all of the comments written about him.

‘‘There are so many soldiers who mention Jon,” his father said. ‘‘I read all of them. They let me know how important Jon was to them. He never missed a mission and always volunteered. He always wanted to be there for those who needed him.”