Sunday, May 25, 2008


Memorial Day has come to mean a lot to Americans. It’s the start of summer. The time of the year we break out the grill, suntan lotion and invite friends over for a sun-soaked day of fun. The Tuesday after Memorial Day we return to our normal routines… returning to work with a bit of a tan, maybe a hangover and by Wednesday it’s all just a blur.

That’s what most of America sees, feels and experiences.

It’s so much more than that. The meaning of Memorial Day has been lost on so many. This is ironic being as we are in the midst of not one but two wars that are taking its toll on our nation.

Memorial Day is meant to be a day of remembering those who gave the “ultimate” sacrifice. The day we honor those who gave their lives in support of our country.

Tomorrow, when most are barbequing and some are remembering our fallen soldiers, I ask you to remember some of the less-remembered casualties of war:

Paul Varner – Paul’s death was a result of a tragic training accident. Paul was a young man who loved the Army. Looked up to his leadership. Wanted nothing more than to prove himself as an honorable soldier. He is not forgotten to those in Delta Company, 2/4 INF. He is remembered the soldier who has Paul’s “battle rattle” tattooed on his arm. A tribute to his fallen friend.

He is remembered in the dreams and nightmares of SSgt Gary Robertson. Who reluctantly admits to me that some nights he dreams of Paul? He tells me of how he blames himself for having chosen Paul to be one of the soldiers to go onto the training field. Or how he has flashbacks to gently washing out a helmet splattered with brain matter. Of gently wiping down the ID card left on the field after Paul was medi-vaced.

He is remembered by me. I met Paul once. Gary and I were leaving Military Clothing and Sales when we ran into Paul. Paul immediately went into “parade rest” stance – the way a soldier stands when talking to a superior. Gary told Paul he could relax, they weren’t in uniform. I was struck at how proud Paul was to have purchased his new rank. He had just been promoted. He asked my husband questions on where to put rank, how, etc. I knew this was one proud soldier.

Paul is remembered by SPC Jimmy Vidal. Jimmy was the other soldier who was involved in the shooting. To meet Jimmy is to meet one of the sweetest men you’ll ever meet. It’s hard to picture him behind a gun. Yet, he is a wonderful soldier. A man full of honor. A man full of pride. He is also a man who must struggle with the memories of watching his fellow soldier get shot. Of wrestling with questions such as “why did I live and not him.”

This is only one example of a fallen soldier who gave all here on American soil.

There are other casualties of war. So many more. Death is the ultimate sacrifice. Or is it? What of the soldiers who return from war only to find their family is destroyed? Broken up by the passing of too much time apart. Too many doubts?

Or of the children left behind waiting for mommy or daddy to come home. The little ones who can’t understand WHY daddy isn’t home. The four year old boy who cries in his sleep and whimpers “daddy.” Who takes for granted at such a young age that daddies and mommies go to work and are gone for “two forty seven years.” Or, in four year old lingo, forever.

The soldier over in Iraq who misses out on the ceremony of watching his only son receive his first black stripe on his karate belt. Or misses out on his granddaughter’s first steps. Or first birthday. Or more simply, misses being able to lay in bed with his wife and watch silly sci-fi shows while she falls asleep, albeit drooling, on his chest.

These, my fellow Americans (wow, how Kennedy-ish of me) are some of the casualties of war so much of America doesn’t see.

With that, I leave you with this:


Fantastagirl said...

And now, he is remembered by me. He will be remembered as someone who volunteered to defend this great nation, so that my family has a safe place to live.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post...awesome.

Makes the day get put back into perspective.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post...awesome.

Makes the day get put back into perspective.