31
May
10

Remembering & Thankful

I remember seventh grade mostly because of a classmate who experienced a tragedy I could hardly fathom.  He was new to our school that year.  His dad was in the military and serving in Vietnam.  He talked with excitement about his dad coming home in just a few weeks.  Although it wasn’t the center of attention for us as self-centered middle school kids, I remember thinking how great it would be for him to have his dad home again.  I didn’t know what that was like…to have a war separate family members.  My dad had served in the Army during the Korean War, but did so stateside as a communications instructor at Fort Gordon.  He had served before he was married and, obviously, before I was a thought in my parents’ mind.  My only other experience was an uncle who served in Germany during the Vietnam era.

I remember the years during the Vietnam War being dark and depressing as I would watch the reports on the evening news.  It was the first war where reporters were embedded in the war zone and giving “live” reports.  The feeling was oppressive.  Of course, I later came to understand more clearly the political implications of the war and how the soldiers were treated when they returned from combat.  The sad fact is that they had to endure the terrible experiences of the battle in an impossible situation and then come home to be treated as criminals.  The truth…no matter how one feels about the Vietnam war (or any other war), the soldier is just fulfilling his duty.  We should always be thankful for their courage and sacrifice…and this goes for those who served in Vietnam as well.

What was it that made my seventh grade year so memorable?  I remember the day that our teacher stood before the class to tell us that “Brian’s” dad would not be returning home to the family.  Just a few days short of his return, he was killed in combat.  Somehow, the tragedy of this death brought home to a kid, trying to figure out the world, just how much a person is willing to sacrifice to fight for his country.  I went to the funeral home for the visitation and just stood there quietly not really knowing what to say.  The sadness on my classmate’s face told me that he had suffered a loss that I could not even begin to understand.  But I knew, from that point on, I would always appreciate the courage and sacrifice of those who serve our country in the armed forces.

This Memorial Day, I remember and honor all those who have given their lives for the cause of freedom and at the call of our country.  Regardless of the political agenda, every soldier, sailor, airman and marine who has served our country with honor deserves to be applauded.  I stand today and salute them…with a grateful heart and a humbled mind.  Thank you for being willing to serve.

Do you have a friend or loved one who you wish to honor?  Write their name and/or a brief comment about their service below.

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