In a letter to the editor, (Sept. 14, 2006) Kathy Gustafson was concerned about the lack of crosses for those who have died in the Iraq War.

This is a valid question but it is important to keep all things equal. The crosses placed on our property were representing the number of abortions in South Dakota during 2002. They were not representing the number of abortions in America in 2002; that number is much larger.

The total number of South Dakotans who have died in the Iraq war are 17 in four years. The largest number of South Dakotans to die in Iraq in one year is 6 in 2005. (

I would agree that even one unnecessary death is too many but we must realize that the death of a soldier is not the same as the death of a child in the womb. A soldier in America enlists in military service for a variety of reasons, but ultimately it is their free choice to do this.

A child in the womb is not free to choose when they are conceived. The soldier puts his or her life on the line for the safety of others. A child in the womb does not get that option. The child in the womb also has a future ahead of him or her, and people that would grieve the loss of this person.

I would say that the field of crosses for fallen soldiers stands in every military cemetery around the world. It is my hope that we can find a common ground on how to promote and protect all human life from conception to natural death.

Father Paul RuttenDirectorPius XII Newman Center