Honoring Our Soldiers

To add to the Memorial Day tributes I am re-posting something I first wrote in October 2009, with a grateful heart for all the men and women who sacrifice so much for all of us.

The faces and stories on the news and in our local paper have appeared in a steady trickle over the last eight years. Another soldier lost, another family grieving. But the news this week that eight young men from the 4th Brigade Combat Team at Fort Carson, CO, had lost their lives in a bloody firefight in Afghanistan—where they were horribly outnumbered by attacking insurgents—has hit me extremely hard.

You see,  I can stand out on my deck and see part of Fort Carson. I drive by the Mountain Post often. At the shopping center just down the hill, I frequently encounter young GIs in their crisp, starched desert fatigues, going about all the ordinary activities of their lives that don’t put them in mortal danger.

As I watched the news accounts of the losses this week, I looked at each face intently. Is that the young man who held the door for me as I went into the cleaners carrying a pile of dirty clothes? Are those the guys who stood in line with me at Black Bear Coffee last summer, turning to say, “Have a good day, mam!” before they left?

One day my friend Pat and I were having lunch in the sushi restaurant down the hill in that same shopping center. We couldn’t help but notice a couple of young soldiers counting out their change to cover their lunch tab. “Never mind!” we called out to the waitperson. “We’ve got their lunch.”

“Oh, no mam,” one of them said, turning to look at me with his piercing blue eyes. “You shouldn’t do that. We’re here to serve you.”

“Well, you are serving us,” we said. “This is the least we can do.”

With a heavy heart one morning this week, I dug one of those rubber bracelets everyone wears to support their causes out of my jewelry box and stretched it over my hand. It’s camouflage green, and I got it when I gave blood in a drive for the soldiers a few years ago. I wanted to wear it as a reminder to pray for the eight families grieving.

As I went about the activities of my day—enjoying my protected, free life—I wanted to remember that we are still at war, that troops are still in danger, and that all of them need our prayers and deserve our deepest gratitude.

These were our boys who died this week—guys from our neighborhood. Remembering them with honor? Well, it’s the least I can do.

Comments

  1. A beautiful tribute, Nancy. We’re still in Kansas (will drive home tomorrow) and Molly and I had lunch in Junction City. Molly is the GED/ABE Coordinator for Barton Com. College on Ft. Riley and has a real heart for the soldiers’ families trying to earn their GEDs. At the table across from ours, two young women soldiers in fatigues were having lunch, and as we left we prepaid their bills with the waitress and left a note thanking them for their service.
    We had overheard some of their conversation, talking about their children finishing up the school year and going to visit family and friend during the summer while the soldiers were on TDY in Texas. Sometimes we forget that women, too, make huge sacrifices, and so do their husbands and children.
    Thanks for the touching reminders.

  2. How very touching Nancy! As I attended our Memorial Day Service at Sanford’s Veteran’s Memorial Park this Monday, a deep sorrow gripped me as I watched a young wife rise – sobbing – when our Congressman asked for the families of fallen vets to stand and be recognized for their shared sacrifice. At the conclusion of the memorial service, I observed a mother knelling down to place her tiny flag next to her son’s name on the brick sidewalk of heroes, I was grief-stricken. The ride home was unusually quiet… even with our three grandchildren in tow. The eldest, Gabriella, (age 9) broke the silence with this: “I can’t believe we STILL have wars.” It’s a lot to think about: what’s been required of all the brave young men and women who have -from our earliest days as a country- been courageous enough to fight our battles to keep us safe and free. Thank you for reminding us all to say “thank you” and to conduct ourselves as citizens who are worthy of their sacrifices.

    • Thanks, Charlie. I’m proud of you for taking your grandchildren to the ceremony! It’s too easy for all of us to forget the sacrifices others have made.

  3. We do owe so much to those that gave everything. A wonderful post and a reminder. And even though Memorial Day was last week, I don’t want it to end…

    • I agree, David. I had a chance to be with a young Army wife and her two precious children last night. Her husband is in Afghanistan. We owe a huge debt to them all.

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