Memorial Day: Dying So We Could Live

Monday, May 25th, 2009

How do you feel when someone saves your metaphorical hide? A co-worker covers for you, maybe. Your spouse softens a story that would make you look bad. A friend forgives what feels unforgivable. A doctor finds the cause of your child’s illness. You feel grateful and indebted.

And then, there are those who actually put their lives on the line for you and gave it. Most of these people you haven’t met, but you should.

Memorial Day is about gratitude and remembering the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to save yours. Was the sacrifice worth it?

What kind of life am I living that makes their death worth it? Those of us among the free and living often take for granted the time we have on this earth. We live as though the moments are cheap and expendable. We live as though what we have doesn’t matter.

We matter. Life matters.

There is a quote from Band of Brothers saying,”the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. …” That is true of all of us. If not today. If not tomorrow. It’s assured, that we’re all dead men walking.

And the life we have right now is because someone willfully marched toward death to give us a life of freedom and choices. And yet we live afraid.

It’s a myth that soldiers or winners or anyone going toward their future is unafraid. They live with fear like everyone else and govern it. They also know with more clarity, that life is incredibly short and should be lived with purpose and meaning while you have it.

Squandering life displays an incredible lack of gratitude to those who saved it. Take a risk and live life to the fullest.

Today, I’m profoundly grateful to the servicemen and women who have given their lives so I could live free and seek and pursue happiness my own way.


Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Badass Photography
Soldiers do it tougher.

Yearning For Afghanistan

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Learning to brush teeth in Afghanistan.

Learning to brush teeth in Afghanistan.

Oops! This was an Afghani soldier:

American soldier with Afghani children

Afghani soldier with children

Iraq must be doing better because even the AP indirectly acknowledges it:

Spc. Grover Gebhart has spent nine months at a small post on a Sunni-Shiite fault line in western Baghdad. But the 21-year-old soldier on his first tour in Iraq feels he’s missing the real war — in Afghanistan, where his brother is fighting the Taliban.

Military officials say violence in Iraq is at its lowest point in the past four years.

With violence in Iraq at its lowest level in four years and the war in Afghanistan at a peak, the soldiers serving at patrol station Maverick say Gebhart’s view is increasingly common, especially among younger soldiers looking to prove themselves in battle.

“I’ve heard it a lot since I got here,” said 2nd Lt. Karl Kuechenmeister, a 2007 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who arrived in Iraq about a week ago.

The reporter goes on to report that only the newbies want to go back, but since anecdotes are news, I have some of my own. I corresponded via email from a soldier yesterday who was talking about serving again after taking a break after serving in Iraq. He wants to go to Afghanistan now:

And yeah, I am going back because it is getting worse. I want to do what I can to help the country. When I saw the glee in the little girls eyes when they got comic books and crayons etc after years of being refused such things, I just needed to help anyway I could.

A seasoned soldier (and if I can get his permission, I’ll use his name since he blogs, too) wants to go back and fight to help people in a 3rd world country have what we have in America. It is absolutely humbling to know that thousands of American men and women are actively choosing to serve not just America’s interests, but those of the less fortunate in the world fighting for freedom. Amazing.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News