Maggie Gallagher
Of course, it was bound to happen. Casualties of war are inevitable. And although we have not as a nation reached the point of actually sending women directly into combat, we now send them so close to the front that it is unavoidable that some of those captured or killed by the enemy will be young women.

Women such as 19-year-old Jessica Lynch, missing in action, an Army supply clerk whose convoy made a wrong turn into an ambush, the same ambush that led to the capture of 30-year-old Shoshana Johnson.

Every human being is made in the image of God, male or female. Every casualty of war is a tragedy, and the sacrifice of every American who serves in our military deserves public honor.

And yet the emotions aroused by our national sacrifice, made by those like Jessica and Shoshana, will not fit into a nice, neat box. Is there time, in the midst of war, to take them out and examine them?

"She really loved small kids. That's what makes it so bad," Greg Lynch, Jessica's father, told the New York Post. What makes it really bad for Dad is thinking of the children this warm West Virginia country girl may never have. Future mothers of America marching to war?

Shoshana Johnson is a mother, a single mother of a 2-year-old child. Family members describe Shoshana as a woman who loves cooking and caring for her baby girl. They were shocked to see Shoshana on television, wounded and in enemy hands: "I thought she was cooking," said one of her aunts. In war, of course, even cooks are in danger.

On the eve of the first battle, The New York Times published the photos of 12 marines -- seven of them were women. Nice try. In reality, the images shooting from our television screens affirm that in this, as in every single war known to human history, the bulk of the fighting, the killing and the dying is done by men.

But the majority of women in uniform are either single mothers like Shoshana or married to a fellow soldier. When they go to war, they make a sacrifice of a kind most men in uniform do not: They leave their babies and small children behind, with no parent to care for them. Their children are orphans for the duration; some will be orphans for the rest of their small lives. What do we make of this special feminine sacrifice?

There is the public reaction and the private one. We are all in these women's debt, because they have chosen to serve their country. I pray for their safe return, as for every American soldier. As an American and a citizen, I honor their service.


Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.