Sunday, February 27, 2005

Vietnam, Iraq wars cited for minister's suicide

Vietnam, Iraq wars cited for minister's suicide

He wrote that the latest conflict brought back unbearable horrors

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

WENATCHEE -- He never was inclined to talk much about the damage, at least not to his wife and children. They knew -- it was obvious -- that a land mine in Vietnam took large portions of both of the Rev. Alan McLean's legs 38 years ago.


But they didn't know about the .45-caliber pistol. Or the suicide note in his laptop, written but never printed out, seven days before he used that pistol. In it, McLean, the popular rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church here, apologized to his wife, Betsy, and his children for not being stronger. The war in Iraq, he said, unbearably amplified his nightmares.

He said he'd had enough.

"35 Marines died today in Iraq, only slightly more noticed than my legs," the former second lieutenant typed on Feb. 4. "I did not get any of my Marines of Charlie (Company) killed. It is possibly a sign of God's presence there. Certainly not of my ability."

With his final decision to call 911 from his church office and turn his pistol to his chest on Feb. 11, McLean, 62, became a casualty of two wars, his family members said.

"I underestimated the power of the war to take his life," said his daughter, Mary Watkins, 29, of Tacoma. "And I really feel that though my dad's been in Wenatchee, the war in Iraq killed him."

Betsy McLean, Alan's widow, agreed.


Six months after the Iraq war began, McLean gave a sermon about having faith in what the government was doing. His family and friends noticed the war began to have an increasingly heavy effect on the rector.

Half a year later, he offered a different view, one that divided parishioners in the conservative farming town. He told the congregation he was no longer sure the country was doing the right thing.

"Some people were upset with him," Betsy said. "But he was not unpatriotic by saying that. He was deeply patriotic. He supported the troops, just not the war."

Vietnam, Iraq wars cited for minister's suicide

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President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


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