I am very privileged to have contact with some of the personnel, military and civilian, in-theatre. People I have universally come to admire and will, unfortunately for me, probably never meet! I was recently blessed with an email from one such person about his Memorial Day experience down range today. It was too good to keep to myself.
Thought I'd share with you that this email was sent to me by a civilian working in support of the military. He has been in Iraq for two years and has volunteered to extend his stay through December in order to finish out the tour with the troops who are there with him now! Thanks to all who are willing to serve, civilian and military. Your sacrifices are monumental and mostly unknown!
If you are sitting there thinking that no one really gets Memorial Day anymore....read on and be renewed!
If you know someone who may not really understand Memorial Day anymore...pass this on and allow them to be renewed.
There was a time I suppose, even though my Father is a veteran of WWII andalmost killed then, or watching the news tell every night when I was a littlekid, about how many Americans had been killed in Vietnam that day, and latermeeting men telling me their stories who had fought there, or even a few yearsago meeting with some veterans who were at Pearl Harbor the day it wasbombed... ...a time Isuppose...like many others, Ithought of Memorial Day as just a day off from work, going to the beach, firingup the pit, etc. It took 2 years here in Iraq for me to getit...to bring it home to me...to my home now here in this combatzone. I have sat and talked with so many soldiers,listening to their first hand accounts of fire fights, IED's and other shakytimes in this country. Mulitiple Purple Heart recipients. Thosecoming in here bandaged up, in a hurry to communicate with their families beforethey found out anything from someone else. Many that have come in here after beingwounded, looking like someone had fired a shotgun gun at them, from all theshrapnel wounds they had suffered. There are many soldiers I have met, talkedwith and looked in the eye here, that were later killed, or wounded so bad I didnot see them again. Soldiers who have shined like any that everhave taken a field of battle. Our last wounded soldier, a fifty-ish FirstSergeant who was reminicent of Robert DeNiro in "Apocalype Now". He woulddismount his humvee to make himself sniper bait, because he thought he would bequicker on the draw and see them first...and he was...until last week when around fired by a sniper exploded through one of his legs and lodged in theother. What did he say to the medic? "Patch me up and get me back outthere." Instead, he was sent to Germany to getoperated on, but told his soldiers, he will be back by September. There are some unbelievable stories here... Today therewas a Memorial Day service held here in the tent, for those we have lost here onthis camp, here in this country, and for all those from other wars. The Chaplain who ran it, and everyone agreed, did a great job. It was the first Memorial Service, manysaid, that was not depressing. The Chaplain made it more of a celebration oflives. There was no taps played, and no Roll Call done, which when you hearthat, it just tears your heart out. Then at night, we had our little Memorial Day Luau here in the tent. As the night progressed, and as usual, I wentfrom soldier to soldier, shaking hands, slapping backs, and just joking andlaughing with them. Trying to make sure everyone was having fun,and everyone had everything they needed. Everyone seemed to have a great time, justfor awhile forgetting what world was just outside the tent. Even hearing at least 3 far offexplosions, along with jets, and helicopters flying over us all night, fearingan attack I guess because of the holiday. Later in the wee hours of the night, after itslowed down some. I stood outside in the warm night air, and thought of all those that have paid that ultimate pricethoughout our country's great history. So many, who have given their lives andallowed me, and so many others to breath free air. The free air that it seems everyone in theworld, wants to come to our country to breath. And...I thought of those families of soldiersI have met here who had been killed. Families, who I either was shown picturesof by that soldier. Or pictures I later saw of his family at hisMemorial Service, after he was killed. I wondered how they were doing thisday. Those families who have received thevisit. The visit all families who have a loved onehere dread. The visit from a soldier in their dress blues,knocking on their door. Starting the conversation when the dooris opened, with the saddest of sentences... "On behalf of the President, I regret toinform you..." The true meaning of this day will never belost on me again...