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Iraq, part of which read: ``It seems like my whole life changed in an instant. Yesterday I was in a classroom, learning about trigonometry and history. Now I'm being sent across the world to fight. Soon I will be in full combat gear, ready to carry out my mission. I am proud to be fighting for my country.''

Carlos was in an especially reflective mood at his Roslindale home Thursday night because it was his 45th birthday and the first anniversary of Alex's death.

He was holding yet another letter he treasured.

``Alex had a younger brother born to my first wife,'' he explained. ``His name is Nathaniel and he's 5. His father, who lived in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, came to this country as a political refugee after the Gulf War, seeking political asylum.

``This world can be very small and strange sometimes. Nathaniel is half Iraqi, half American, and Alex was his big brother. What's the message in that? I think I know.

``We have this picture of Alex sitting on top of a truck over there with about 15 other Marines,. Listen to what he wrote: `When I see kids smiling and shaking our hands, it makes it all worth it. I want them to live free, like NathanialNathaniel.' I get chills just talking about it now.''

Cindy Sheehan hurts no more than Carlos Arredondo does.

But she's become a bigger story because she's furious at the president and contemptuous of the war.

That's why liberals lionize her.

But Carlos has a story to tell, too.

``I cry whenever I read my son's letters,'' he admits. ``But I am also very proud. He died for those kids over there. How could I not be proud of that?''
GRAPHIC: ARREDONDO: Dad believes his Marine son didn't die in vain.
LOAD-DATE: August 27, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
August 26, 2005 Friday

LENGTH: 320 words
HEADLINE: Editorial;

Good news stats on re-enlistments

One of the most significant stories of the summer is getting almost no notice among the media elite. The Army is meeting its recruiting and retention goals for active-duty soldiers. Remarkably, units under the most pressure in Iraq are heavily oversubscribed for re-enlistment.

Though newspapers around the country carried wire service stories of the Pentagon's Aug. 10 announcement, there wasn't a peep from The New York Times, The Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times on the subject.

Recruits in July totaled 109 percent of the Army's goal, the second straight month above target. In aggregate, the four services were 4 percent over (the Navy fell 1 percent short).

The Pentagon says the Army will still fall short for the fiscal year, and reserve components are still not signing up enough new members (though re-upping targets are being met by the National Guard units of the Army and Air Force). Still, the enlistments ought to prove that America's young men and women still believe in their country and its difficult mission in Iraq, despite all that Cindy Sheehan and her band of like-minded demonstrators can do.

The New York Post dug a little deeper than the bare-bones announcement. Every one of the Army's 10 combat divisions has exceeded its re-enlistment goal for the fiscal year so far. The 1st Cavalry Division was at 136 percent; the 3rd Infantry Division at 117 percent. As author Ralph Peters noted, ``This is unprecedented in wartime.''

The troops are not doing this for the bonuses - only 60 percent get re-enlistment money, and the great bulk of those are $12,400 a year or less. They are not doing it for loot and booty, to impress the old crowd back home, or to learn a trade.

They are risking life and limb because they care passionately about the job. We wonder what we have done to deserve soldiers of such devotion. They deserve all the best we can give them, in equipment, sound policy and honor.
LOAD-DATE: August 26, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
August 26, 2005 Friday

LENGTH: 580 words

System's fiery songs `Mezmerize' metal fans

Tony Danza and Frankie Avalon may seem worlds away from fiercely political rock, but for System of a Down's Daron Malakian, they were perfect fodder.

The pair became an odd muse for the guitarist/songwriter after he fulfilled a lifelong dream of playing baseball at Los Angeles' Dodgers Stadium in a pseudo-celebrity game.

``I was just so weirded out. It was just a surreal situation,'' Malakian said, recalling his inspiration for the song ``Old School Hollywood.'' ``When I went home, no more than half-hour, I just shot out that song.''

Like most tracks on the band's latest platinum smash, ``Mezmerize,'' the song is an uncompromising mix of Frank Zappa-esque lyrics and punk-metal fury. And while many of their peers are whining about lost love and broken homes, somehow System - which performs tomorrow at the DCU Center in Worcester with fellow art-metallers the Mars Volta - manages to morph '50s teen singer Avalon's name into a catchy chorus. ``I don't put any walls in front of me when it comes to things that inspire me,'' Malakian said by phone before a show at Miami Arena. ``I write about my life.''

Though all four members of System are of Armenian descent, they claim the Armenian connection is coincidence. Malakian grew up in Hollywood, a disgusted spectator of the superficiality of the City of Angels, an experience responsible for one of the album's most intense tracks, ``Lost in Hollywood.''

``The L.A. persona is a bunch of people who never grew up in L.A., who think they have to act a certain way. They aren't usually from L.A.,'' he explained. ``And that's what `Lost in Hollywood' is about - me growing up watching it all. I'm really proud of that song.''

On ``Mezmerize'' and its forthcoming counterpart ``Hypnotize,'' due out in November, Malakian takes over a large chunk of the vocal duties from frontman Serj Tankian. But, Malakian explained, it's really not much of a change. When the band formed a decade ago, Tankian was a keyboardist and Malakian was the frontman. Their vocal chops, coupled with the band's fiery, off-kilter style, puts them in a category of their own.

``I think we play honest music. That's a rarity these days in pop culture or radio culture or mainstream,'' Malakian said. ``You don't have many bands playing honest music - music that is not produced and cookie cut in the regular, corporate fashion just so it will be marketed out like Pepsi.''

Their latest single, ``B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bombs),'' is clearly anti-war, but it's abrasiveness is softened by a disco-fied chorus, played with a sarcasm casual listeners may miss. Its references to the Iraq war are pointed, but Malakian said ``it's more of a social statement, a class statement'' than a political song.

``We're just a band that looks at music as art,'' he said. ``We don't just look at it as `Let's just play our guitars.' We're a heavy band, but we've got emotional and light sides to our songs, funny and sad. We don't limit ourselves.''

And thanks to rabid grassroots support and relentless touring,-- Malakian said, ``We've seen some success without having to change our ways.

``We've kind of stuck to our guns,'' he said. ``We've pretty much done things our way and things fell in the right place at the right time. With a little bit of luck here and a little bit of hard work there.''

- System of a Down plays tomorrow at the DCU Center in Worcester with the Mars Volta and Bad Acid Trip. Tickets are $37.50-$45. Call 617-228-6000 orgo to
LOAD-DATE: August 26, 2005

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The Boston Herald
August 25, 2005 Thursday

LENGTH: 313 words
HEADLINE: Editorial;

Facing terror, facing up to loss

The anti-war drumbeat has grown stronger during these dog days of August, these days of Cindy Sheehan's Crawford encampment, these days when even Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is comparing Iraq to Vietnam.

Yesterday President Bush took on the fight, attempting to remind a nation with the world's shortest attention span why our troops are in Iraq and most of all why they must stay until the job is done.

``We will not allow terrorists to establish new bases in failed states from which they can attack our citizens,'' Bush said in Idaho. He noted that after Sept. 11, ``we had a clear choice'' to either ``hunker down'' or ``bring the war to the terrorists, striking them before they could kill more of our people.

``I made a decision. America will not wait to be attacked again.''

He drew the line straight to Iraq and the haven it has always provided for terror.

An immediate withdrawal from Iraq would only ``embolden the terrorists,'' he said. ``As long as I am president, we will stay, we will fight and we will win the war on terror.''

Bush paid special tribute to the sacrifices of the National Guard (Idaho has some 1,700 guardsmen currently serving in Iraq, the highest percentage of any state in the nation) and military families. And even as Cindy Sheehan was winging her way back to Texas, Bush was paying tribute to Tammy Pruett, who has four sons currently serving in Iraq. A fifth son and her husband recently returned from duty in Mosul.

After his speech, Bush met with other military families, including the widow and the daughter of Staff Sgt. Virgil R. Case, who died in Iraq in June.

``My dad chose to go over there and that's something he was proud of, and our family was proud of him,'' Stevie Bitah, 18, told the Associated Press.

No, Cindy Sheehan does not speak for all who have lost loved ones in Iraq, but during these waning days of summer you'd never know that.
LOAD-DATE: August 25, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
August 25, 2005 Thursday

LENGTH: 291 words
HEADLINE: Few Hub employees join mag on D.C. move

David Bradley may be taking The Atlantic magazine out of Boston.

But he's not taking the Bostonians with him.

Bradley, owner of the famous Hub-based magazine that is moving its editorial operations to Washington, D.C., has acknowledged that, so far, only four of The Atlantic's 39 editorial employees have agreed to relocate to the nation's capital.

The result is that Bradley may now have to build an editorial staff nearly from scratch - searching for copy editors, reporters, assistant editors, a managing editor and a top editor.

By the end of the year, managing editor Cullen Murphy - who's been running The Atlantic since star editor Michael Kelly left in late 2002, also plans to step down. Kelly was later killed in Iraq.

Bradley has been interviewing candidates for the top job.

``I knew that most people were rooted in Boston and couldn't come down (to Washington),'' Bradley recently told the New York Observer. ``Only four people that I know of are coming, so four out of 39.''

Julia Rothwax, a spokesman for Bradley's Atlantic Media Co., said the number of people moving to D.C. is ``evolving and in flux'' and could end up being slightly higher than the unnamed four who have already committed, she said.

Editorial employees have been offered a job in Washington or a severance package, she said.

``The process now is to hire more people,'' she said, adding there's no specific target date for ultimately shutting the longtime Boston offices.

The Atlantic, which is close to celebrating its 150th anniversary, has been a perennial money loser for Bradley and his predecessor, real estate and media mogul Mort Zuckerman. But after Bradley bought the magazine and hired Kelly, The Atlantic experienced a journalistic and circulation renaissance.
LOAD-DATE: August 25, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
August 24, 2005 Wednesday

LENGTH: 242 words
HEADLINE: GI hero finds himself jobless

With a resume like his, Jeans Cruz thought he'd be an easy hire. After all, how many applicants can boast of not only computer training and military experience but of having captured Saddam Hussein, too?

Cruz was one of the two U.S. Army soldiers who hauled the deposed Iraqi dictator out of the spiderhole where he was found hiding in December 2003. He has the pictures to prove it.

``He smelled like one of the homeless men on the street. He said he was Saddam Hussein, but to be honest, I didn't believe him,'' Cruz told the New York Post.

His reconnaissance unit - part of the 10th Cavalry's G Troop within the 4th Infantry Division - left Iraq in April 2004. He was hailed as a hero at home in New York and was asked to be a grand marshal in Brooklyn's Puerto Rican Day Parade. But since the 24-year-old Bronx dad of a 2-year-old boy was discharged last month, he hasn't had a nibble in his job hunt. He's posted his resume on the Department of Labor and employment Web sites.

``I'm trying to get a job. I have a lot of things to put on my resume,'' he told the Post. ``I thought it would be pretty easy, with my background, but it hasn't.''

Complicating matters for Cruz, who was working as a security guard at the World Trade Center on 9/11, is his nursing assistant's certificate expired while he was in Iraq. But he doesn't regret serving in the Army. ``That was something I always wanted to do, and I accomplished something,'' he said.

GRAPHIC: GOT HIM: American soldier Jeans Cruz holds a picture of him posing with captured Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. SPLASHNEWS PHOTO
LOAD-DATE: August 24, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
August 24, 2005 Wednesday

LENGTH: 328 words
HEADLINE: Mass. guardsmen honored for valor

A pair of Massachusetts National Guardsmen who braved incoming rockets, mortar rounds and machine-gun fire to help repel an insurgent attack outside Baghdad in April were awarded Bronze Star medals for valor Sunday.

Master Sgt. Joe Young, 52, of Orange and Sgt. Philip Rand Jr., 32, of Plymouth received the nation's fourth-highest award for combat heroism for their role in fighting off an insurgent force estimated to be at least 60 strong.

``The first thing I thought was I had stepped into hell,'' said Young, who is still in Iraq, in remarks released by the Guard. ``There were small-arms rounds, mortars and rockets going off all around us.''

The outer perimeter of the base at Abu Ghraib was in danger of being overrun when Young and Rand, of the Quincy-based 1/102nd Field Artillery, exposed themselves to heavy enemy fire to replace a jammed heavy machine gun critical to the base's defense. A total of 36 coalition solders were wounded in the attack. But Young, a father of three grown daughters now on his second tour in Iraq, didn't mention the two-hour battle to his wife until she read about it on the Internet days later.

``He was doing a very good job protecting me,'' said Andrea Heckman-Young, adding that she's ``extremely proud'' of her husband. ``Joe has done his duty, and he's done his country proud and his family proud.''

Rand is a Bridgewater cop and former Marine reservist who returned to the military to serve his country during wartime, his mother, Jane Rand, said.

``He's the first to jump in. He's always been like that,'' she said. ``Every day you just have to worry about a knock on the door at night, but he chose to do this. He wants to make a difference.''

Three other members of the Quincy unit were awarded Army Commendation Medals with the ``V'' device for valor for their roles in repelling the April 2 attack: Staff Sgt. Christopher Yarger, 38, of North Attleboro; Sgt. William Gates, 28, of Belmont; and Sgt. Jimmy Lok, 28, of Randolph.

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