As yet, even on Fox, it goes uncorrected
I remember the first time I saw my youngest daughter. It was via ultrasound on a TV monitor as my wife’s doctor moved the unit over her belly.
The doctor paused over her head, and with the mouse added a smiley face and a “Hello Mommy” text balloon. We had a video tape in the machine, so our first home movies of our youngest were when she was right around 9 weeks from conception. She was alive, a tiny person moving around in the womb of her mother.
A baby boy was similarly 9 weeks in his mother’s womb when his life was taken, along with his happily expectant mother, by an individual terrorist, Muslim by faith, named Nidal Hasan. Hasan loved death more than Army Private Francheska Velez loved life, and the life of her unborn son;
Growing up, Army Pvt. Francheska Velez was a ‘fraidy cat’ – horror movies and bugs gave her the willies.
“When she joined the Army that all changed — in a good way,” Velez’s cousin Jennifer Arzuaga said. “She became stronger.”
Army strong. The 2006 graduate of Kelvyn Park High School in Chicago served in Korea and most recently in Iraq, where she drove fuel tankers.
She made her father proud.
“She was the best I have. The light of my family,” Juan Velez said of his only daughter. “She was living my dream — to be part of the military, part of the United States. To be part of something. Just to give back to the United States because this is where we are from.”
On Thursday, Velez, 21, was one of 13 soldiers killed and 30 wounded during an Army psychiatrist’s rampage at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.
She was due back from Iraq on Dec. 10 but came home early after she found out she was three months pregnant. Her family was planning to visit her in Texas next month.
But on Friday, there came a knock on the front door of the Velez family’s two-flat in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community. Army officers had tragic news.
Francheska and her baby were dead. Forget the “how did Hasan slip through the cracks” aspect for now. Focus on the death toll. Why is it reported as 13, rather than the actual number of 14? Was the fact the child had yet to see the light of day a reason it should remain unseen by the news networks (including Fox, to my knowledge)?
Fourteen were killed at Fort Hood, not thirteen as reported all week long. Which official is correcting the death toll? I am. On the authority of being a mother who is multi-paragravida, meaning one who has given birth more than once, and on the authority of being a grandmother of five souls, I can, I think, count straight about this particular tragedy.
Francheska Velez was a 21-year-old woman, shot to death by Major Nidal Hssan at Fort Hood Army Base. Thirteen others were slain also.
Nine weeks into her pregnancy, Army Private Velez had just called her cousin in Chicago on Thursday to say how excited she was about the child growing inside her. By night, she and her child were both dead, bringing the death toll at Fort Hood to 14 total. Not 13.
It cannot be that media reportage follows a legalistic mean wherein a fetus is not considered a real person … as per damages in a trial, say of manslaughter, wherein a tiny dead child represents no lost income, or other actionable losses, for instance. Except for its very life.
It cannot be, can it, that such cruel death to mother and child are not reported accurately because someone fears calling a child a child, would lead to… what? Laws that hold life of a tiny child as real real life. That hold the life of a mother endangered in any way, as a real real life too?
All I know is that Cheka as her friends called Francheska, was– despite the ubiquitous ’stern’ look in her formal military photo– a darling, smiling woman who like many of our young, took her work in the military seriously and had done a tour in Afghanistan, and was retuning home to Chicago to have her child.
Her large family was excited about the new little life growing in their daughter, cousin, niece, granddaughter, and friend, for Cheka was a nurturing woman who loved nature, wrote poetry and did all the things all our young do, including making love. And thus, came the tiny child, a boy child, a son, a soon to be first-born precious child.
With a nation reeling at the news of the killings at a US Army base where one would think our troops would at last be safe from the ravages of a war so far away, it may seem trivial to quibble over the actual body count, particularly when one body had no real history as yet.
But didn’t it? Was the mother not happy, the family not excited? Didn’t Francheska daydream about baby names, feel her son move when she played music buy a certain artist, or worry about how to be the mother she wanted to be in the future?
Opinion Columnist Maria Vitale asks if additional charges couldn’t be added;
It was beyond heartbreaking, seeing a young widow pausing before a picture of her beloved soldier, killed not on the battlefields of Iraq or Afghanistan, but on the presumably safe spot of Fort Hood, Texas.
I had to turn away from the television screen, the pain on her face was so great.
In the massive media coverage following Major Nidal Hasan’s killing spree at the military post, I have heard over and over again about the death toll from the tragedy.
But seldom mentioned is the most hidden victim — soldier Francheska Velez’s unborn baby. Velez was on maternity leave when she stopped at Ft. Hood, where she and the child she carried in her womb fell victim to Hasan’s bullet.
In the interest of true justice, Hasan should be prosecuted under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as Laci and Conner’s law, named for the pregnant woman and unborn baby who were murdered in California by Scott Peterson, the baby’s father.
t would seem that the law applies in this case for three reasons: the act of violence was committed on federal property…the shooting was allegedly done by a member of the military…and the violence could be classified as an act of terrorism.
US CODE: Title 10,919a. Art. 119a. Death or injury of an unborn child (thanks Aaron):
(1) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in conduct that violates any of the provisions of law listed in subsection (b) and thereby causes the death of, or bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of title 18) to, a child, who is in utero at the time the conduct takes place, is guilty of a separate offense under this section and shall, upon conviction, be punished by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct, which shall be consistent with the punishments prescribed by the President for that conduct had that injury or death occurred to the unborn child’s mother.
Okay, what is my whole purpose here? It seems I got sidetracked in the minutiae but more appropriately, I dragged you through my own discovery process.
The point is, I wince still whenever I hear “13 victims” when I know there is one more no less important one that never even got to cry out in pain…
…as many of us do from the pain in our hearts.
It’s 14 dead, not 13.