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.