Last night I was following a number of blog posts that were remembering Scott Peck, who died September 25, 2005. Annie Gottlieb commented, “The death of a public figure can be a body blow when it's someone who has directly affected your life.” In as much as the media has become our common experience, it is not surprising that when well known people die, in a real way, we mark our lives by their passing. About Peter Jennings, who died August 7, 2005, Julie Jensen reflected, “It is funny to feel impacted by this event -- someone I never met, but I have been thinking about it all day. I think it is because of the constants of my growing up is gone…. I always knew that when we turned on the news he would be there.”
In contrast, unless we have a loved one or family member who is in Iraq, the reported deaths seem somewhat removed or abstract. Death is abstract until we are faced with it. CNN reported October 26, 2005: “The U.S. military death toll in Iraq reached 2,000 Tuesday with the reports of three new deaths…” Updated: 4:26 p.m. ET Nov. 24, 2005: “At least 2,104 U.S. military personnel have died since the war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The AP count is four lower than the Defense Department’s tally, which was last updated at 10 a.m. EST Wednesday.” The worldwide update of reported civilian deaths in the Iraq war and occupation: Reported Minimum 27115, Reported Maximum 30559.
I don’t want to start a trend on this blog by memorializing celebrities and famous people, but among the many who have passed away this year are Johnny Carson (TV host), Ossie Davis (actor/writer/activist), Keith Knudsen (drummer), Arthur Miller (playwright), Sandra Dee (actress), Hunter S. Thompson (writer), John DeLorean (entrepreneur), Andre Norton (writer), Johnnie Cochran (lawyer), Pope John Paul II (Leader of the Roman Catholic Church), Frank Gorshin (mimic/actor), Eddie Albert (actor), Anne Bancroft (actress), Luther Vandross (singer), Peter Jennings (TV news anchor), Bob Denver (Little Buddy), M. Scott Peck (writer/psychiatrist), Don Adams (actor), Nipsey Russell (comedian), Rosa Parks (long-time civil rights activist), and Peter Drucker (writer/management theorist).