Friday, May 25, 2007

A Memorial Day Guest Post

Commentary by Maj. Mike Nachshen
Public Affairs Education with Industry Partner

Soon it will be Memorial Day, and I'll remember.

I'll remember Eric. I'll remember how even though I only met him two or three times, his wife was my deputy and I knew him through her eyes. I'll remember that every time she talked about the love of her life, her face would come alive and her sparkling eyes would light up the whole room. I'll remember that even though my wife and I couldn't make it to their wedding, we got the newlyweds a silver-serving spoon they had listed on their registry. I'll remember when I last saw him, Eric and his wife were holding hands, and they looked the way people do when they're madly in love with each other.

And because it will be Memorial Day, I'll remember. I'll remember hearing we lost a plane in Iraq. I'll remember how I figured the odds were pretty slim that it was someone I knew. I'll remember the sepia-toned West Texas landscape as we drove for what seemed like an eternity to the memorial service, 90 long miles away. And I'll remember the way the eyes of Eric's wife glistened with tears as she contemplated being a widow at 26 while walking down that long aisle dressed in black and all alone.

And because it will be Memorial Day, I'll remember my friend Sarah. I'll remember how Sarah would stop by my desk every time she had business in my building and how her smile and laughter would burst into every nook and cranny and drop kick your rotten mood into the trash can. I'll remember how she would put funny pictures in my staff meeting slides when I stepped away from my desk for more than 30 seconds without locking my computer. And I'll remember Friday evenings at the officer's club, as we tried to solve world hunger and cure cancer while we washed down fried food with endless pitchers of frosty beverages.

And because it will be Memorial Day, I'll remember. I'll remember how excited Sarah was when she told me about her upcoming deployment ... and how as I looked at her, I recalled what it felt like to be a high-speed, low-drag young lieutenant headed overseas for the first time on what promised to be a giant adventure. I'll remember being deployed for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, opening that e-mail from my boss back home, and reading the message which began "Mike, there is no easy way to tell you this ..." And I'll remember what the dirt felt like on my hands as I threw it on her coffin while her parents and brothers cried and tried to understand what strange law of physics could allow a small wooden box to contain Sarah's irrepressible energy.

And because it will be Memorial Day, I'll remember to make my way down to the local Veteran's cemetery and remember the lives that were and the lives that should have been. I'll remember Eric and Sarah had dreams and goals and aspirations. And while Eric and Sarah are surely heroes who died for their country, I'll remember them not as towering figures to be worshipped, but as people who laughed, loved and brought others happiness while trying to make the world a better place. And perhaps most importantly, I'll remember that they had people who loved them, and still miss them and think about them every day.

And I'll remember I'm on sacred ground and that each marker represents the crushed dream of a wife, a parent, a brother. I'll run my hand over the marble stone that marks some stranger's final resting place and remember that below my feet lies someone's Sarah, someone's Eric.

And because it will be Memorial Day, I'll remember my other brothers and sisters. I'll remember the Irish soccer fanatic we nicknamed Pikey, and his beautiful baby girl who will grow up never knowing her father. I'll remember Meagan, whose warmth and can-do attitude infected you from 6,000 miles away. I'll remember Ben, who lived three houses down from me and was always working in his yard. They are all heroes now. But they are all real people to me. Now they're gone. I'll never forget them.

And, because it will be Memorial Day, I will forget some things. I'll forget the killer deals on new cars, plasma-screen TVs and deluxe dining room sets. I'll forget the crass commercialism. I'll forget the things that don't matter in life.

Because it will be Memorial Day, I'll remember the important things instead. I'll remember to kiss my wife and tell her I love her. I'll remember the friends I lost and the friends I'll never get a chance to meet. I'll remember they had names and faces. I'll remember ... I'll remember.


Anonymous said...

And because of this, I'll remember. Thanks. Got find a hanky, now.

SK said...

I keep reading this post, over and over again. All I can say, is that because of you, hopefully MANY of us will remember too.


bridget said...

Thank you!
Goosebumps here, excellent post!
I'll remember.

Queen of Dysfunction said...

What a great post. Thanks for writing it!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. For those of us who have lost a loved one,too, we will remember with you and thank you for saying what some of us just couldn't put into such beautiful words. I thank you and share your grief. I also share your remembered good times as I remember my own. Bless you for this post!


p.s. Anonymous: get a life!

Toni said...

What a beautiful memorial for the day of remembrance soon upon us. I will be remembering his words on Monday since I will be attending the funeral of another hero - Pfc Travis F. Haslip who gave his all on May 19th.

Thank you Sherri for sending me the link.

BostonMaggie said...

First, I hope it's clear, all credit goes to Mike Nachshen for this great post.

Second - DevilDog6771 does not have Tourette's. There was an anonymous post just above his that was distasteful and I removed it. I apologize that it was up so long, but I was out to dinner.

AFSister said...

Great find, Maggie. Thanks for posting this letter, which indeed reminds us who, and why, we remember.

Sarge Charlie said...

And yes, I will remember, this is a great post, Kat sent me over and I am happy she did, please pass the tissue.

My best wishes for a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, please thank a soldier for what you have.....Freedom

Non-Essential Equipment said...

This is perfect. Especially the part about remembering that those who have fallen are more than just some distant heroes. Their legacy is so much more than that because they were just everyday folks. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

As do all who serve. Thank you for your eloquence.