One of my cousins is a reservist for the Hawaii branch of the National Guard. His unit got called up to serve in Iraq on support duty–he does aircraft maintenance. Well, his unit will be done with their tour in a few days and he emailed everyone to let them know his status. One part of his email especially stood out to me:
Yesterday was a somber moment for me. One which I hope and pray I will only have to do once in my lifetime (even though I realize that there will be many more other ceremonies to follow in the future). Myself and approx 50 other Servicemen attended a Fallen Warrior Ceremony in memory of a ‘brother in arms’. He was a Marine who WILLINGLY gave the ultimate sacrifice of his own life. The ceremony was unbelievable, steeped with respect and tradition. As we all lined-up in formation on either side of the vehicle to make a pathway for the casket into the cargo aircraft, there was a sense of seriousness and an eerie silence. As the casket, draped with a U.S. flag, was removed from the vehicle, a heavy heart soon overcame me, realizing that this is no joke. This was for real. As the casket was carried between our formation, while we all rendered our salute, tears began to run down my cheeks. All kinds of thoughts and questions began to overwhelm my mind. Though I was never near the front lines, the mere fact of working in a high tempo, military aircraft environment, made me think that could have been myself. I needed to know if our efforts for the sake of ‘freedom’ is worth it. That this ‘brother’, that I don’t even know, did not die in vain.
I wish him and his fellow “brothers and sisters” a safe journey home.