Sherwood Baker was a father, a husband, a brother, a son, and
a moral, loving person. He was not supposed to be fighting a war in
Baghdad. Back home, Sherwoods family sat and watched months
of explosions on television. A chill went through the house when reports
of dead U.S. soldiers surfaced. They saw talking heads of gray-haired
men saying we are deeply sorry, and an occasional image
of a sobbing mother flashed by. The thought of it cant
possibly happen to Sherwood persisted. Death was an abstraction.
Sherwood was providing security for a group looking for weapons of
mass destruction that were never there. In civilian life the 6
4 gangly man from Philadelphia worked a full-time job at a center
for mentally disabled adults, and on weekends played hip-hop in local
bars as DJ Phantom to make ends meet. Sherwood needed
to support his young son, J.D., and his wife Debbie, so he had joined
the Pennsylvania National Guard at the age of 23; he had previously
volunteered to help the Guard when he saw them placing sandbags to
contain a surging river. On April 26th, 2004, an improvised explosive
device killed Sgt. Sherwood Baker outside of Baghdad.
No photograph can show it, no words can describe it; embracing a weeping
mother cannot make you feel it. It is infinite. So large that it sometimes
makes me ill. Every person who loved Sherwood drags it with them wherever
they go. To work, to a party, the grocery store, the park, and to
their dreams as they sleep. If you watch very intently you can see
it. I once stared into the eyes of Celeste, Sherwoods mother,
at the exact instant the thought of Sherwoods death passed through
her mind. Her gaze shifted and suddenly she was lost.
It remains an abstraction. An unnatural absence has become a part
Sherwood is gone.