No religion has a simple or satisfactory answer to the question: How can a loving God let good people die young?

Today, nearly 100 American families and thousands of Iraqi families mourn the war dead. Michael Kelly, arguably the most brilliant American journalist of his generation died Friday. David Bloom, who distinguished himself in the field for NBC, passed away today. Like the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have fallen, they share these qualities: They walked willingly into the jaws of death; they placed their lives at risk; and they did so not out of greed, avarice or lust for power, but to advance the frontiers of human dignity and personal liberty.

Who would not wish that war were avoidable, that evil would submit meekly to the counsel of the good? But the world doesn't work that way and so the young march off.

Many of us watch the proceedings with hushed awe, wondering why daily affairs don't conjure such heroism from willing hearts and marveling at the way in which the young become instantly wise; at the fact that searing flashes of danger can make the concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, seem more present, compelling and real than a thousand eloquent sermons.

Another golden thread binds our dead -- and leaves us something to grasp: By and large, they were better and braver than we are. Snatched from the arms of their families, may they find welcome in the House of God. They gave glory to the gift of life -- and in the process, they set us free.