I went to leave work and my boss says to me “Have a good Memorial Day.” and I cringe inside, no Memorial Day isn’t good. When you tell a veteran to have a good Memorial Day it is the equivalent of saying “Have fun at that funeral!!” I know it sounds absurd but it is the same. On Memorial Day, we the vets who made it home remember those we sent home before us in body bags. No it is not a happy day, it is solemn day of remembrance.
See this is me and my buddy Rich. We served together for many years. I am the short one on the right in case it was not obvious. I am holding an M16A2 in case you are wondering, it was my assigned weapon. Rich has an M9 (pistol) you can’t see, it was my job to ensure no one got close enough that he had to fire it. Yes the date stamp on that is correct so yes it was a long time ago but still very real. Only two months after this picture was taken, this one would be taken.
This is what a service looks like for a fallen solider, in this case two of them who were killed just after I came back with Rich from our mission. The Captain on the left was my Company Commander, Phil. The Lieutenant on the right was the new Executive Officer. His name was Lou. Both left behind families with children. Both were murdered by one of our own. Their memory haunts me to this day. I watched the trial in seclusion as I was the one who told the command he was planning something. I was the one who told them “He said he was going to frag (murder) them.” They ignored me and my Commander was dead two weeks later.
I spent a portion of my remaining time in country looking through police photos of suicide scenes. We lost 6 soldiers to suicide that year. Five men and one woman. All left behind families. One had a son in country with him, I had the dreadful duty of telling him it was ruled a suicide. I remember their names, I remember their method of death and worst I remember their final photo. It’s horrible, it’s morbid and I spend 11 months of the year trying to forget this portion of my life. You can’t unsee what I saw you can only learn to cope when it comes back to your memory.
So tomorrow I will get up early and say a special prayer for the families of the fallen. I will pray that they have found peace and were able to move on. I will say another for those who are out there now because, some day they may find themselves in my role. I will pray that the memories of who they really were, before the war or before taking their own life will live on instead of the photos that I saw.
For all my brothers and sisters in arms, thank you for remembering with me those who gave all. We must carry their memory forward so that no one will forget that freedom is not free and that we were all blessed to come home to our families.
Rainbow, Never Forget