Love, Freedom, Choice

I woke up weeping at 4:03am yesterday.

It was the kind of sadness one feels when there is loss which cannot be measured.

I looked around my room.

Baby, husband…

I wandered my house…all accounted for.

There is a heaviness in my soul for those who will wander their halls looking for their children.

They wake weeping for those they love.

I’m sure they search for answers as they view the empty bed, the deafening quiet.

I mourn with you. I cry for you. 

I was driving home with my husband and our youngest last night.

To the left, was the most vibrant rainbow.

Behind it was the dark and turbulent sky.

I thought of the young woman’s face I saw on television.

She was killed by a man who pledged to take her life.

Taken from this world by a monster.

A monster that craved vengeance above understanding.

I imagined what she would have given to this world.

My eyes filled with tears that burned my eyes.

May her face and all victims of terrorism not be forgotten.

*****

We all know what’s to come. No one is immune to the hatred that follows us, our freedom, our choice. 

A woman on the news begged to know where her son was. She didn’t distinguish life or death, just the need to know something, anything, about her child.

Young men and women carry a wounded friend away from the carnage, away from the death in hopes that he would survive.
The scenario repeated on our own soil is one I see often in the news from (not so) far away lands like Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, etc. They are at war, and it can only make sense to come to an understanding as a country, unified, that WE are at war. 

While people die we watch and hope it gets better. 
While mourners gather, we sit and watch.

I believe that every human being has the right to live a life of freedom, safety, and choice. 

I believe that every human being has the responsibility to do their part to make this world a safe place for those that cannot be free, do not have safety, and aren’t allowed to choose their own path.

I believe that freedom, our freedom, comes at a price. I see it daily. Hourly. The safety so many of us take for granted is being paid for by those who fight behind enemy lines, and ironically give up that same freedom to do it. With this freedom we as Americans have, there will always be those individuals, whether home or abroad, that want what we have or want to take it from us. They choose that. Let us not follow in their foot steps and choose to hate, vilify, and isolate. Let our lights shine brighter, show the victims and their families we are going to do more than just watch and sit idly by. Do something.

Just talking about these things solves absolutely nothing. No matter your views – if you want them to matter, to make change…get up and vote. Protest what you find wrong with this country and support the values you hold dear. If we don’t, we have no one to blame but the person staring back at us in the mirror. ***

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Remember Why

 

General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, promulgated General Order No. 11, which was the first official promulgation of Memorial Day. General Order No. 11 provided that flowers be placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers on May 30, 1868.
“Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

President Ronald Reagan remarked on a Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery –
“…the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others.”
President Reagan on the soldiers of the Viet Nam War –
“They chose to be faithful. They chose to reject the fashionable skepticism of their time. They chose to believe and answer the call of duty … They seized certainty from the heart of an ambivalent age; they stood for something.” “We owe them something, those boys … a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, know that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.”

Unfortunately, the ravages of time have yielded not only neglect, but also forgetfulness. In 1971, the fatal error occurred – the Uniform Monday Holiday Act fixed the celebration of Memorial Day to the last Monday of May. Congress, botching up its own creation, corrupted it with a three-day weekend. The “most sacred day of the year” was perverted into an empty excuse for barbecues, sales, and mini-vacations.
(Judge Michael Warren/Co-Creator of Patriot Week)

 

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Now that you have a brief history about Memorial Day, I’d appreciate your indulgence for a few more paragraphs…

To those misguided but life-loving souls that protest what our country was built upon and is still protected by – please remember that the sales you’re shopping this coming weekend were built upon those same graves, same loss, same love, same dedication to something/someone greater than themselves.

The bigger picture if you will, is that every service member who dies while enlisted CHOSE that. They chose our Republic and what they feel it should stand for. Their choice was/is one of such selflessness, bravery, honor. The fallen deserve more than just a day but for just one day please, please acknowledge that what you/we have is because someone you may never know fought for it. Blood, sweat, tears.

To those who’s family members have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom to love who we choose, live how we choose, God Bless You. You’re loved ones are never far from my family, our prayers, our time. We love you. We are here for you. Come what may – war and peace – we will never turn away from you.

 

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To those who will enjoy a three day weekend, a barbecue with family/friends, enjoy it. Be present for every moment. Stand in awe of what you have and take a little time to be remember  WHY you have your little bit of heaven.

“I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and Support and Defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means.” – John Adams (1776)

 

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For The 22 We Lose

 

For him some days are harder than others. Behind the green eyes I fell in love with is another time and place that I cannot go. Hidden deep within his heart so very broken are the lives that have made him unbreakable. The men whose names are forever etched in his mind and closer still as he paces, smoking…

Some things are best kept between him, God and his infantrymen. A loss that I can never fathom but that I have felt, often, as he sleeps – at times running to those he’s lost, to the one he still searches for. In all these many years there are finally heavy moments which quickly fade…or so he would have me believe. I know it is the silence he fears. That quiet goodnight that allows the demons he fights to strengthen. Still after all this time he wakes to check on his brothers. Like a photograph – he lives in a world paused by the scars he has endured. The body he pushed to save all those beside and behind is now turning on him. His heart beats harder, faster. His new knees buckle. His back aches.

 

For several years after I met my husband I saw his struggle with the service he chose and the severe PTSD he did not. It is never easy to watch someone we love make an enemy of themselves and as a result…those that love them.

Through it all his ability to laugh at himself and the shit and mire he went through with his brothers was unchanged, and is what I love most about him. Bravo and I have spent many long nights talking about those he has served with, and in many ways still carries the load for. Loyal and tough, my husband has done well hiding his pain from us, but it lingers behind his smile and beautiful eyes.

As with most of the brave men he has served with the desire to remain in the fight ebbs and flows with the tide. The internal conflict between his sense of duty and the resounding effects of being abandoned by the government and civilians whose freedom he chose to fight for does not leave him. There is rarely a night that his battle goes quiet while he sleeps.

My husband decided to write down the angst bottled up over the years a long time ago but his heart had always stopped him, or the symptoms of his PTSD would be just enough to push him from the paper. When he finally dove in I was proud of him. I understood the long sleepless nights ahead would in the long run be healing…even if in the short term I knew the man I love would fight his demons all over again.

It is never easy to stand by while our husbands relive these stories, and writing them, reading them over and over takes its toll. My husband has lost years to his past and his present is once again filled with nights pacing our deck. Tears for those moments he will never share but that play like a broken record in his mind. He keeps going for his fellow men, and for those that can’t tell their own story. He has shared many things with me over the last 17 years, but to read of the life that most nights haunt him, well, truly breaks my heart…but never have I been more honored to be his wife.

I am not sharing this for what I feel is deserved gratitude for my husbands service but for the battles that never left him and for those who’s fight with combat related PTSD has ended needlessly. 22 United States Veterans commit suicide each day. In 24 hours, 22 amazing human beings will have their struggle end and for the people who love them, a new struggle begins. 22 men and women-fathers/sons/brothers, mothers/daughters/sisters die each and every day fighting with the same heart beat as my husbands. Wives like me lose their best friends and children like ours will never again get to hear their fathers laugh. Their deaths are not to be ignored and their lives still stand for those they protected even in such tragic loss. Their sacrifice is not in vain. Their beautiful souls simply couldn’t contain what they felt every moment of every day – saving those who wanted a life of freedom and choice – while seeing the very worst of humanity.

I love you my sweet husband. Do not think I don’t see you struggling tonight. I am here, always. I will never give up on you. Thank you for standing tall, and for showing me what it is to be human.

*Please take the time to watch this. Thank you.*