Remember the Fallen

Remember the Fallen

Remember the Fallen

Some years ago, I stepped off an ugly yellow school bus onto a covered patio at Ft. Jackson, carrying two large duffel bags and wearing my first military uniform. There were scores of Drill Sergeants invading the recruits’ personal spaces, yelling directly in their faces, and “God Bless the USA,” by Lee Greenwood was blaring from a recording somewhere. I immediately teared up, just like I tear up every time I hear the national anthem played at a sporting event or concert. I’m a sucker.

This year, much like every year, I wonder what happened to the Soldiers with whom I disembarked that bus. Some of them surely got out and are living their lives as civilians. Some went on to serve 20 or more years. Some of them are still serving, and some of them were killed. Some of them died in combat, and some in peacetime, but they are gone, and they deserve to be remembered. Always.

We set one day aside every year to remember them and all the others who lost their lives. To most people Memorial Day marks the start of summer with barbecues and beaches. To those of us who served, Memorial Day is not a happy holiday. It’s not about summer and the ability to finally wear white shoes without committing a fashion faux pas, although it’s a nice way to spend a long weekend. It’s a time to remember friends, console grieving families, and express our gratitude to those who came before us and those with whom we served who made the ultimate sacrifice.

No matter where we serve and in what capacity – whether Army, Navy, or any other service – no matter what job we performed – infantry, artillery, intelligence, cook, or admin – we are family. We are that “Band of Brothers” – that “few, we happy few,” and very few in this world can understand that. When one of us dies, a part of each and every one of us dies with them.

So I don’t begrudge you your barbecues, your beaches, and your summer fun. I don’t get too upset when clueless people wish me a “Happy Memorial Day,” because it’s more of a dull ache now than a sharp, angry pain. I clench my teeth and say, “thank you,” because I don’t want to be ungracious, and because I know they mean no harm.

But I remember the Major with whom I served on my last deployment, who was killed during an attack at the Interior Ministry in Kabul a few years after that deployment.

I remember the Sgt. Major who died on that deployment.

I remember the friend’s husband who was murdered by an Afghan pilot who murdered US service members at Kabul International Airport in 2011.

I remember them all and I’m thankful for each and every one of them.

The video above doesn’t have a script. There’s not a single word spoken during this roughly 10-minute short film, and yet it says more about those who served and those who sacrificed than any words ever could.

Enjoy this Memorial Day. Have fun in the sunshine. Have a wonderful long weekend and enjoy the warm weather.

But please, just take a few moments to remember them and say some words of gratitude for those who made the ultimate sacrifice – who chose to serve this nation, defend our values, and protect our Constitution and our people. Spare them a thought. Spare them a prayer.

Take a few minutes to thank them.

Written by

Marta Hernandez is an immigrant, writer, editor, science fiction fan (especially military sci-fi), and a lover of freedom, her children, her husband and her pets. She loves to shoot, and range time is sacred, as is her hiking obsession, especially if we’re talking the European Alps. She is an avid caffeine and TWD addict, and wants to own otters, sloths, wallabies, koalas, and wombats when she grows up.

5 Comments
  • Oldav8r says:

    A toast: To absent friends.

  • Brian Brandt says:

    . . .
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be rememberèd—
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

    William Shakespeare – Henry V, Saint Crispin’s Day Speech

  • Scott says:

    Well said Marta. I try to treat the day as an Irish wake.. the men I know that didn’t make it home would kick my ass if i was just sad all day. They’d expect me to celebrate their lives, not mourn their deaths (yeah, I struggle with that part sometimes..) So hang in there, and raise a glass to fallen friends,,

  • Beege Welborn says:

    Vale, warriors.

    Rest well, my brothers and sisters.

  • Nina says:

    Well said Marta. Thank You

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