In Ohio Thursday, a second wave of Marines’ death notifications reached the family of Lance Cpl. Brett Wightman.
On Monday, Wightman left a phone message to his mother, Pam Saville, telling her he was OK. About 19 hours later, he was killed.
“I just met them at the door and said I already knew,” says Saville. “And the chaplain said, ‘That’s what all the mothers say.’”
Eighty-five Ohio natives have now been killed in Iraq, ranking the state fourth in the number of servicemen lost.
Tim Rock’s son, Nate, was killed this week. He was an ardent supporter of the war effort.
But in his rust belt town of Toronto and across the state, support for President Bush’s Iraq policy is now at just 46 percent.
“You look at these poll numbers and you think, jeez, people are finally catching on,” says Tim Rock.
Measuring the political fallout from those killed in action is delicate, and some say tactless. But in a state that tipped the last presidential election, and that this week nearly awarded a congressional seat to an underdog Democrat, some analysts see early signs of a shift.
“It’s a very close state, so almost anything bad, from a Republican standpoint, could switch it over to the Democratic side,” says Professor John Mueller of Ohio State University.
The president and his supporters in Ohio say this week’s casualties, while difficult, are part of a broader mission of protecting the nation. That sentiment now collides with a different one — in a state where the fallen are not just names, but neighbors.