More than 100 Iraqis and 11 U.S. soldiers were killed in a series of bombings during this time. Twelve miners died following an explosion in a West Virginia coal mine. Meanwhile, more than 70 people died when an old building collapsed in Saudi Arabia.
What makes Young's death stand out from these others isn't so much that he was LDS and from Utah, but that he was both those things and a missionary.
Coal mining, inefficient building codes, and simply being in Iraq are inherently dangerous situations. Missionary work isn't generally considered risky. In fact, where danger is concerned, it's supposed to be rather boring. But is it really?
The LDS Church keeps meticulous track of its missionaries, and according to solid church sources, the exact number of missionaries who have been killed is none of my big fat business. So, be advised that the following threat analysis is based on personal memory.
My LDS mission was more than 30 years ago. Not only is it amazing that I went, almost equally surprising is that I came home alive. I didn't know that at the time, of course. I was too busy being a missionary.
The South American country I served in was not a happy place. In addition to the usual crime associated with abject poverty, the military and communist guerillas bickered constantly.
Tracting in the worst neighborhoods, my companion and I ducked invective from leftists, ignored grim army patrols, and harkened like heck unto the Spirit whenever gunfire erupted nearby.
One day, there was a massive political demonstration in the middle of our area. The military moved in and restored order by shooting protestors like rabbits. In the bloody aftermath, military vehicles roamed dark streets. Offices and homes of communists were bullet-pocked, blood-spattered and burned out.
Through all of this, we went about our business as if it didn't involve us, even when it did. Two of us got shot, though neither died.
My mission journal is a study in wool gathering. Scribbled entries recount the usual concerns of a 20-year-old missionary: rules, food and corresponding intestinal cramps, and converts.
I don't know why fear didn't occur to me more often or even at all. We blithely went places then I wouldn't go today for a million bucks and the loan of a flamethrower.
Elder Young's death is a tragedy. But with 50,000 LDS missionaries sent to some of the most screwed up places in the world, the real head scratcher is why more of them aren't killed.
It can be argued that God watches over them, though I'm not sure how that logic works when the worst happens. Given that everyone eventually dies, I do not believe that God plays favorites.
Coal miners, soldiers, Muslim pilgrims, missionaries, I think God watches over all of us. But we live in a dangerous world. We can tinker with the odds, but inevitably we all owe our creator a death.