A dilemma as I sit here

As I sit here this weekend with 30+ family enjoying a reunion and listen to the laughs, stories, and food cooking I sit here both happy and sad.

I sit here happy for all of them to be able to enjoy the freedoms of this country and the ability for all of us to get together. Some of them have served and they know what it means, others never have and only know the stories from some of us who have. Good for both of the distinct groups. Thank God we have so many that have answered the call of this Country to preserve this way of life. Also thank God those that are here can enjoy a life without knowing the horrors others have seen.

I also sit here sad thinking about those reunions and gatherings that are missing a key person in the last few years. That father, mother, son, daughter, cousin, husband, wife, brother, sister, cousin or friend that cannot be with loved ones. The one that is the reason why we have this weekend. Why we honor Memorial Day.

I think about Danny missing his brother, or Cheryl or Donna missing their sons, or Robert missing his, or Rachel missing her husband or Illiana missing her brother. Those are just a few of the names of family of the fallen that I either know personally and/or have written about on this blog.

These are just a few of the reasons why we have this day and for as much as I am sure those who have fallen would look down on us all now and say enjoy the day and have a great time with each other, the rest who are still walking this earth miss them.

I know that had I been called to give my life, that would have been my last wish “don’t cry for me, I am in a much better place, enjoy each other and make the most of your time together”.

So it is in this dilemma I sit, where I know we all celebrate and should, but for many we also mourn as many of us always will. I hope all who read this truly take the time to think, ponder and remember why we have this holiday and why it is a very special one that stands apart from all of our other holidays. If you personally knew someone who has given their life for our country in the Global War on Terror, you can find their picture and any news stories about them at http://projects.militarytimes.com/valor/. Or you can just go see and learn about some of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on your behalf.

I ask you to also consider and think about the statement below. Maybe even use it to teach the children in your life about these days and put them into perspective.

Without Veterans’ Day there would be no Memorial Day and without Memorial Day there would be no Independence Day.


Video of the Day- Honoring the Fallen

Another short, but very touching video tribute to our fallen. Not necessarily profiling a historic battle or place, but the feelings and impact are the same regardless. This is only a few minutes long and well worth those few minutes on this honorable weekend.


Thoughts from Memorial Day 2011

I first brought this up a couple of years ago and wanted to raise up the topic again.

For years I have struggled with how to address Memorial Day when greeting people on this weekend. I know many of my brethren have told me they sometimes struggle with the same thing.

I mean saying Happy or Merry Memorial Day does not seem right at all. Would you walk up to someone on the anniversary of the date a loved one of theirs died and say Happy Anniversary!! I think not.

I think that is one of the reason’s why I am not a big fan of parades on this day. Parades are meant to be fun and joyous, not sad and somber. But many communities have them and even though I know they mean well, it just doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe I am weird like that, I don’t know.

So how does one give a greeting on this honorable and reverend of holidays that our country actually takes a pause to recognize?

Like I said, for years I have been struggling with this issue.

Until today!

Today while driving from one cemetery to another to visit past soldiers of mine I had an epiphany. It suddenly popped into my head. Rather than “Happy” or “Merry” , use the word Honorable. That is what we are doing, or at least supposed to be doing on this day. Honoring.

I know it does not flow as well as Happy or Merry, but quite frankly I don’t care. I think it is the best word to use. Maybe there is a better one that I can’t think of, but I know for now I will stick with Honorable. So when I see someone today I will say “Hope you are having a HONORABLE Memorial Day” or maybe just “Honorable Memorial Day”.

I hope you will join me in changing the way we greet people on this weekend and day. Lets make this a grass-roots effort to HONOR those that have made the ultimate sacrifice and their families and friends who have memorial day 365 days a year and not just one.

Reflecting on Memorial Day 2006

Going into this Memorial Day 2013, I thought I would re-post my blog post from 2006 that I wrote shortly after getting into Afghanistan starting a pivotal chapter of my life. Every once in a while I go back and read those old blog posts to try and capture the feelings and emotions I had back then. In reading this one, I felt it would be a good one to repost today.

Little did I know how many more names would be added to that list of warriors that I personally honor on this weekend.

Today was a busy day in A-stan, as our ANA battalion was getting settled in. I had my first full day with them, spending most of my time with the ANA CSM. They are like dealing with 3rd graders, and not so much because of their education level but because of their maturity level. I can see many more frustrating days with these guys. I had my first Chi tea today along with nuts, raisins, and peas. I had this with the CSM as met and talked today. Even though I got to really get ingrained with the ANA and had to deal with a variety of issues, my thoughts really were not here today.

Today my thoughts were on many friends and soldiers that have given their lives for this country. My thoughts were of faces, faces of friends, faces of patriots, faces of sons, brothers, uncles, and fathers. Faces of men like SGT David Roustum, whom I lost in Iraq in November 2004. Faces of men like PFC Ben Schuster whom I lost in Iraq in February 2006. Faces of men like SGT Mike Randazzo who was a friend and fellow soldier who left this world in March 1990 just a few kilometers from where I was battling the Iraq army. Faces of SGT Ed Kutz who died at the battle of 73 easting in March of 1990. Men like SFC (Retired) Lou Legier, who was one of my closest and best friends that I lost due to a motorcycle accident in Atlanta Georgia just a few years ago. See this is what memorial day is all about, but of course unless you have the pains of these faces in your memory it all gets lost in extra days off from work, BBQs and sprucing up the landscaping in the front yard.

These men and others that I was acquainted with or had served with whom are no longer here is what has been on my mind all day. I think not only of them, but also their families, friends, loved ones. I think of what they would be doing today if they were still here. I so badly wanted to take a moment today and spend some time remembering them in solace, but I was having to do my job all day with the ANA, a job that I hope will be successful so there are no more names added to any walls.

Tonight I sit here in my TOC (tactical operations center) typing this entry in quiet, using this private time to remember them. Using this medium to talk about these great men and these thoughts. I sit here listening to the tacsat radio about weapon cache finds and about riots in Kabul because of a stupid accident and dumb people. That is a distracter, but so is a war in a country like this place. We did have a very important visitor today, the top General of the Afghanistan Army. But I will write more about that later.

I urge that anyone who reads this to take a moment and think about what this day is about. Think about the blood, bones, sweat and tears that our young and old alike shed in order to protect your way of life, in order for you to have a job much less an extra day off. Just take a moment, not long, and think of all they do for you and your family. God Bless them all.

A great tribute video for Memorial Day

H/T to my close friend, Michelle T., for making me aware of this tribute video. It is produced by Crye Precision (makers of Multi-Cam) and Dillon Aero (makers of mini-guns), two of the best things the Army owns in my opinion.

As we transition into this honorable Memorial Day weekend, I would like to kick off my series of tribute posts with this video.