"I'm sorry I must leave, but I must do what is asked of me by my God, my Country, and my Corps.. and so, the war blog begins, again." ~B

12 October 2011

Book of the Week: Lost in America by Colby Buzzell

Book of the Week was Lost in America: A Dead-End Journey by Colby Buzzell.  Buzzell is a former milblogger of My War: Killing Time in Iraq fame.  Overall, an interesting read.  A road memoir that pays homage to Kerouac, Buzzell paints a picture of every day America in tough economic times.  He also chronicles an inner journey towards peace and purpose as he navigates post-war existence, the loss of his mother, and his new introduction to fatherhood.

I empathize with this journey.  Making your way in a world where the opportunities you were promised have come and gone already.  Where purpose and meaning have come inextricably interwoven with war.   Where there is little direction for your life so you just keeping moving, keep stepping forward, hoping to stumble upon the place where lost becomes found.

11 September 2011

10 Years

There are so many memories of that day.  10 years later September Eleventh is still as incomprehensible to me as it was when I was a kid watching it unfold on the tvs in the classrooms.   It was the catalyst for so much that has come since.  It was the defining moment of my childhood.  It was the line of departure.  The before and the after.

So much loss of life.  So many heroes.  Rick Rescorla.  FDNY. NYPD. PAPD. Everyday civilians who took the opportunity to help others when it was presented to them.  So much good and so much evil in the same day.

How do you process it?

So many questions remain.  So many lessons are left to learn.

Since 9/11 I have become and adult.  I have watched my friends who sat in a classroom with me that day when someone announced that our country was at war and we were going to be the ones to fight it go off to war.  I have said goodbye to my best friend and prayed that  I have seen some friends of them be wounded in war.  I have been to funerals for others.  I joined an organization that has provided me with more experiences that I ever could have though possible.

9/11 was the catalyst for all of it.

With the death of bin Ladin in May, I am left to wonder if there will ever be closure.  I, like many others, had hoped that that is what his death would provide.  But I think it was just the metaphorical "end of the beginning."  I think though that it will always be an open wound.

 9/11 changed so much.

God bless the families of the lost.

2,996 souls.

Never forgotten.

17 August 2011

4 years

Never Forgotten
August 16, 2007
Taramiyah, Iraq

  "If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have always. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your

     And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.

21 July 2011

Of Three Or Four In The Room by Yehuda Amichai

I have fallen in love with this poem.  In so many ways it encompasses the past 7 years for me.  There are lines of this poem that stay with me like few others do.  Part of me will always be standing at the window.  Part of me will always see the ones who left whole and came back in pieces.

Of Three or Four in the Room

Out of three or four in the room
One is always standing at the window.
Forced to see the injustice amongst the thorns,
The fires on the hills.

And people who left whole
Are brought home in the evening, like small change.

Out of three or four in the room
One is always standing at the window.
Hair dark above his thoughts.
Behind him, the words, wandering, without luggage,
Hearts without provision, prophecies without water
Big stones put there
Standing, closed like letters
With no addresses; and no one to receive them.

13 July 2011

Not Taking it for Granted

There are so many little things that you take for granted.

Following your favorite teams.  Sharing those experiences with those you love.  Especially sharing those moments in the forms of instant communication that are available now.

Got to do that again this week.  Pretty cool moment to realize, hey, the Marine Corps gave him back!  I can do this again!

So many things can happen in the world. I am reminded of that again this week.  Of close calls and almosts.

I am grateful for all the little moments.

And all the moments I get to enjoy again with the ones that I love.


27 June 2011

Dreamlife: Sleeping At Last

Beautifully and eloquently put. ~W

Dreamlife by Sleeping at Last

As our hearts lay sleeping,
As our bodies rest,
The Heavens open up for us.
Put down your weapon, child,
And close your eyes,
Because you and your enemies
Are innocent tonight.

I never wanted you,
I never wanted you to go.

There's a voice inside your soul
That resonates through your skin and bone,
Up through the blades of grass,
Underneath the feet of God's only son.
The war that you're fighting
Has already been won.

I just want to survive with you by my side.
With you by my side, I just want to survive.

Crooked mouth, quiet down.
Let your fists come undone.
Miscarried love will be reborn.
When we sleep,
The devil's arms are tied.

The war that we're fighting
Has already been won

I never wanted this,
I never wanted this to go away.
I never wanted this,
I never asked for it,
I never meant to let it go.

I just want to survive with you by my side.
With you by my side, I just want to survive.

04 June 2011

Wartorn: 1861-2010

HBO has done an excellent documentary on PTSD called Wartorn: 1861-2010.  It gives a good accounting of the scope and history of the aftermath of war.  Through individual accounts it shows the personal devastation and change that these invisible wounds can have on soldiers and their families.  I was particularly interested in the Civil War and WWI letters and video imagery.  Definitely worth a watch.

03 June 2011


Ronald Reagan Memorial Day Speech:
“…Each died for a cause he considered more important than his own life. Well, they didn’t volunteer to die. They volunteered to defend values for which men have always been willing to die if need be – the values which make up what we call civilization. And how they must have wished – in all the ugliness that war brings – that no other generation of young men to follow would have to undergo that same experience.
As we honor their memory today, let us pledge that their lives, their sacrifices, their valor shall be justified and remembered for as long as God gives life to this nation. And let us also pledge to do our utmost to carry out what must have been their wish – that no other generation will ever have to share their experiences and repeat their sacrifice.”

30 May 2011

RIP Will

Never Forgotten
"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others." ~Pericles

29 May 2011

Not Forgotten

This is a post I originally did for the anniversary of a friend of mine's death in Iraq.  I will visit his grave tomorrow and I will think of many more fallen soldiers and their families.  You are not forgotten.

Also see this post: 
Coming Together

Meet Cpl. Willard M. Powell

August 15, 20007 was Cpl. Will Powell's last day on this earth.

He joined the Army in Feb. of 2006. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash. and died Aug. 16 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when the enemy attacked using small-arms fire during combat operations in Taramiyah, Iraq. He was posthumously awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal and Good Conduct Medal.

This was a man who grew into a hero, but I knew him best as Will, a super-competitive kid who often annoyed the crap out of me in 3rd-4th grade. I was a super-competitive kid too. We had many battles before and after school in daycare. Recesses were also fair game. We played on competing soccer teams in the school league. I took great pleasure in beating him. At anything.
Whatever it was-basketball, soccer, checkers, the card game War with Uno cards, redlight-greenlight, or heads up seven up- we seemed to face off. He didn't want me on his teams much, as I was a just a girl, and a small one at that. That just made me angry and all the more determined to beat the living daylights out of him.

One day in childcare, we were playing basketball. I was on the opposing team, the only girl. He gave me crap the whole game, wouldn't shut up. I ended up with the ball as the teacher was calling everyone in. It was the last shot and the score was tied. I got a shot away- while being knocked down by one the boys- and ended up with two bloody knees and a bloody elbow. But I made the basket. My team won. My mom wasn't happy with another pair of torn pants, but my team won.
As I was picking the gravel out of my knee and contemplating a trip to the nurse for some bandaids, Will offered me a hand up and said, "you can play." That day, we went from being rivals to friends. We recognized in each other a certain fight, a stubborn determination. After that, we teamed up together a couple of times. We never lost.

Will transfered schools at some point, maybe a year later. It seemed like one day he was there and the next he was gone. He was going through some family stuff, and that probably had something to do with it. The playground wasn't quite as frustrating without him, or as fun.

I was walking down the hallway at my high school, I believe at the beginning of the year, turned a corner and almost walked into him. This was a surprise, not many kids from our small Christian school went to this high school, ever. It took us a second to recognize each other and from where. We caught up, laughed, and then rushed off to make it to class before the bell rang.

We saw each other in the halls often after that. I had a class or two with him, and we were friendly. Didn't really run around with the same people though, after classes. But he always had a smile for me in the hall. We joked around about teachers and assignments. Sometimes even about those games on the playground when I kicked his butt (or he kicked mine). He never failed to notice if I looked sad or upset. He'd crack a grin and tell me to cheer up.

Will is one of the last people I saw before I left the building the final time on the last day of school as a senior. I was in the business hallway, and he was too. He was at a locker, his or someone elses, just standing around. He flashed a giant last-day-of-school smile and said "Good luck, have a good summer. I'll see ya around."

We went our separate ways after that. I regret not keeping in better touch. I guess I thought we would fall back into each others lives at some point, as childhood friends seem to do. That image- of Will holding onto a locker at the end of the hall, rocking jeans and a white shirt, huge grin plastered on his face- is the memory I hold onto.

Cpl. Will Powell is a hero who gave his life looking out for other people. It will be two years tomorrow. His story should be told. He deserves to be remembered.

RIP Will.

22 May 2011

The Blood Stripe

The Blood Stripe:

The month of May marks the return of the sun, warm weather, and pops of color as plants and flowers embrace spring.  It also brings with it a time to remember.  If you are connected in any way to the military you  have a list of names to remember.  They are friends, battle buddies, mentors, and leaders who left for war and did not return. They are brothers, sisters, cousins, moms, dads, and best friends.  As we enjoy the sunshine and make our Memorial Day plans this month, may we pause to remember those families who will honor not just the fallen, but their fallen loved ones.

Outside my workplace there is an American flag that rises high above the parking lot.  I see it everyday, multiple times a day.  A recent storm made the wind blow it out to it's full length and I was struck by the colors that stood out boldly from the muted grays in the clouds. 

The sight provoked this question: What do you see when you look at the flag?  We see it every day. Salute it at ball games.  Cheer on the stars and stripes in international sporting events.  It graces everything from our municipal vehicles to various clothing and novelty items.  It is a complex symbol which simultaneously provokes love and hate, hope and oppression.

But what do you see when you look at the flag?  There are 50 white stars representing the states, and symbolizing heaven, 13 stripes for the original colonies that rebelled against British rule and founded the nation and which are symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.  There are colors: blue, signifying vigilance, perseverance & justice; white, signifying purity and innocence; and red signifying hardiness and valor.

The boldness of the red stripes grab me.  Stripes that proclaim hardiness and valor.  Red stripes carry additional lore within military culture, particularly within the Marine Corps.  There is a similar red stripe that runs down the trouser legs on the dress blue uniforms of NCOs, SNCOs, and officers.  This stripe is commonly referred to as the "blood stripe" and serves as a reminder of the blood that has been spilled and honors the memory of fallen comrades.

Red for the blood of those who die to keep our nation free.  Blood stripe.  Red stripes on the flag that covers our war dead.  Our wars are anesthetized now.  We don't see the pools of blood under a young man who has just had his legs ripped off by an RPG.  We don't see the shoulder patch-- muted battle flag leaning forward into battle, soaked with the blood of a young woman who has just been peppered with fragments of metal and bone by a bomber willing to use even his own body as a weapon.  We are shielded from the pink mist, the human detritus that stripped of it's niceties is the sacrifice of war.  But it is up there with us every day in the red stripes that drip down the flag.

I am reminded of a John Ciardi poem.  In "A Box Comes Home" he writes, "I remember the United States of America/ As a flag-draped box with Arthur in it/ And six Marines to bear it on their shoulders."

When I look at the flag hanging vertically off a wall in my bedroom, I see names and faces blurred inside the crimson.  Gunnar is there with his duct tape and fast car.  Will is there too, probably making a bet on something. Jonathan has on a lazy grin.  Liz's Sergeant is there next to Sam, Kim, and Jess.  Chris is in there playing Little League.  Jon is there rubbing the pregnant belly of his wife before loading the bus that took him away forever.  It is their blood that has stained red the flags imprinted on our Old Navy tshirts and that fly outside our windows and line our pews.

It is their sacrifice, the blood of "patriots who proved in liberating strife that our flag was still there."

When the little flags are flying this month over graves long since neglected and over the fresh graves of a new generation's war dead pay attention to the red stripes.  Look at the names on the graves and imagine the people they were.  Imagine the stories they could tell you.  Remember the fallen were people once, not an academic abstraction, a dry statistic, a tally on a journalist's score sheet, or a tool to be used in political debate.  Remember what the flags signify-a ideal, a country, an oath, a soldier.

Remember, as Robert Leckie wrote, "It is to sacrifice that men go to war.  They do not go to kill, they go to be killed; to risk their flesh, to insert their precious persons in the path of destruction."  Remember those who will be absent from their families' picnics on Memorial Day, because sacrifice whispered to them "Not the blood of your brother, my friend-your blood."

Hopes and dreams stopped mid act.  An empty bedroom.  A picture instead of a father.   A mother's arms embracing a folded flag where a daughter used to be.

John Ciardi said this about the loss of his friend, "I would pray/ An agreement with the United States of America/ To equal Arthur's living as it equals his dying../

Or, to quote a pop-culture source, a dying Captain Miller says to Private Ryan in Spielberg's film "Saving Private Ryan,"  "Earn this James...Earn this."

What can we do to honor those we have loved and lost?  On whatever path God has placed you on, live your life in a manner worthy of their sacrifice.  Vote.  Serve others.  Send a care package.  Hug a soldier.  And whatever you do, take a moment this May to remember.

13 May 2011

Vigils by Siegfried Sassoon

I've spent quite a bit of time studying the poets of the first World War.  Most classes study the poets who were subsequently killed in the war and therefore left rather limited bodies of work behind.  These poets certainly left behind very valuable and insightful works on the nature of war and human experience of war but they cannot answer a question that I find intriguing: What happens after the war?  How does the war impact you for the rest of your life?  How do you carry on, especially in the case of the WWI poets, when so many of your friends and comrades did not come home?

These questions led me to the work of Siegfried Sassoon and a collection of poems published in 1936 entitled Vigils.  Sassoon enlisted at the relatively advanced age of 28.  I'm sure that the maturity he gained in the preceding years impacted his wartime experience.  As a soldier he was known for his courage, often leading nighttime raids.  He was decorated for his gallantry in battle.  He was wounded.  He had a complicated relationship with the war in which he served.  He saw its destruction and created controversy when he spoke out with the notion that his nation's leaders were unnecessarily prolonging the war by their actions.

What makes his story different from other Great War poets is that he survived the war.

Of all the men who were lost to the war, this one lived.  He lived until 1967.

I think of all the life he lived after his 4 years at war and how they must have colored the way he saw the world.  We often hear of how WWII veterans lived after the war but we don't seem to collectively remember that those veterans of the first world war did the same. 

Vigils  is a glimpse into that life. For example, a line from "December Stillness," 
December stillness, crossed by twilight roads, Teach me to travel far and bear my loads...
They were not true, those dreams, those story books of youth;
I left them all at home; went out to find the truth; 
Slammed the green garden gate on my young years, and started
Along the road to search for freedom, empty-hearted.

But dreams have secret strength; the will not die so soon:
They haunt the quiet house through idle afternoon; 
And under childhood skies their summer thoughts await
The rediscovering soul returning tired and late.

For, having grown world wise through harshly unlearned illusion, 
The Traveller into time arrives at this conclusion,-
That life, encountered and unmasked in variant shapes,
Dissolves in dust and cloud, and thwartingly escapes.
But in remembered eyes of youth my dreams remain.
They were my firstling friends.  I have returned again. (p.7)

It becomes clear that the past stays with him.  He wrestles with it.  He mocks it.  He embraces it.  But he never forgets it.  As he shows in Ex-Service and We Shall Not All Sleep, it is always with him, always in his head.
Break silence.  You have listened overlong to muttering mind-wrought voices.  Call for lights.
Prove these persistent haunting presences wrong Who mock and stultify your days and nights.

Dawn comes, and re-creates the sleepless room; 
And eyesight asks what arguing plagues exist. 
But in that garret of uneasy gloom
Which is your brain, the presences persist (17).

I love how he recalls John McCrae's famous poem and all of its connotations in this one.  He plays with the imagery of sleep and life and deathAgain, not all of them "sleep."  Some of them find the dead revisit them in their sleep.  The vet and the fallen are both restless.

 Unvouched are visions.  But sleep-forsaken faith 
Can win unworlded miracles and rejoice,
Welcoming, at haggard ends of the night, ---what wraith---
What angel---what beloved and banished voice?

I am also drawn to Revisitation.

What voice revisits me this night?  What face
to my heart's room returns?
From that perpetual silence where the grace
Of human sainthood burns
Hates he once more to harmonize and heal?
I know not.  Only I feel 
His influence undiminished.
And his life's work, in me and many, unfinished.
Who hasn't lost someone and continued to feel their influence after they are gone.  Who hasn't wanted to live a life worthy of the loss sustained?  Who hasn't wanted to complete something that someone who is gone started?

Sassoon's collection Vigils doesn't provide an explicit answer for how he lived his life after the trauma and the loss of the Great War.  But he does give us clues as to what it was like to be a survivor.  He lets us in a little, lifts the veil, and let's us see how the war in his head grew, evolved, struggled, and ultimately healed. 

02 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden is Dead

This deserves much more reflection later, but for now, this picture pretty much sums it up.

20 March 2011

Fire in our Youth

"But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us. But, above all, we have learned that whether a man accepts from Fortune her spade, and will look downward and dig, or from Aspiration her axe and cord, and will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is his to command is to bring to his work a mighty heart."  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes; An address delivered for Memorial Day, May 30, 1884

For the first time in seven years, I do not have any friends or family members deployed to a war zone.  I do not have any adopted soldiers or Marines playing in any of the various sandboxes that they often find themselves in.  Seven years of deployments.  Hundreds of guys and girls.  And for the first time, really, the relentless cycle of homecoming and goodbye, joy and sorrow, relief and danger has paused.  For the entirety of my adulthood, the war has been my ever-present companion.  

I knew the timing was going to work out for the first time awhile ago.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  Now that I have spent almost a month without sending a care package or writing a letter, without a phone call from an international number or a shopping list that including baking supplies, I am trying to wrap my head around the experience.

I don't give a lot of thought to my end of the experience.  It is easier to just keep moving forward, to see all that needs to be done and to keep doing.  But what does it mean in this generation to be a civilian that has worked so closely with the military in wartime?  Lately I have been looking to the past for answers.  To the women who ran local canteens, packed civil war era packages in sewing clubs, served in the volunteer ambulance corps, the donut and coffee girls of the USO and its precursors.  I'm not sure I've found any answers yet but it is clear that the wartime experience is lifelong.  It is an emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, epic kind of thing.   

Even when you are not in the middle of it, the memories and emotions creep in sometimes unexpected ways.  For example, there are songs I literally cannot listen to, tv shows I can't get through, and movies I can't watch.   And I'm never quite sure when I will stumble across one of those things.  Like that new show Coming Home.  I saw a commercial for an episode recently and found myself sobbing without really even knowing why.  I think mostly they were happy tears. Or take a documentary like Restrepo or a movie like The Dry Land or Taking Chance.  I can see them multiple times and really not have much of a reaction to them beyond what you have for any movie.  But then one day I'll watch it and something will hit me and bam- sobbing girl reaction.  Rather inconvenient really, if you happing to be viewing with friends. But I think it goes back to the intensity of experiences and the never taking the time to process the emotions that go with them.  I wonder if Elsie, Vera, or Florence had the equivalent experience and responses as well.

I guess without someone to focus on, I've had a little bit of time to think about myself in relation to the war and the last seven years.  Sift through them a little bit.  I came to the realization that there is a lot there to sift through. 

In the midst of all this reflection a new documentary on the Patriot Guard Riders is being released.  It features a few events that I have attended and some people that I am familiar with in passing.  I get this invitation to go see it.  I went back and forth decided if I should go or not.  In the end, I took a pass because I'm not sure it is one that I want view in public.  I'm not sure what reaction it will provoke from within me.  I think for now it is better to see that one in the privacy of my own home, despite the camaraderie that exists amongst those of us who do the military support thing.

So what's the point of this rambling, jumbled mess?  I don't know.   I do think that Oliver Wendell Holmes got it right though, that "the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience," and that to have your heart touched by fire in your youth is a pretty powerful thing.

04 March 2011

I Was Here

 I Was Here by Lady Antebellum
You will notice me
I’ll be leaving my mark
Like initials carved in an old oak tree
You wait and see

Maybe I’ll write like Twain wrote
Maybe I’ll paint like Van Gogh
Cure the common cold… I don’t know
But I’m ready to start ‘cause I know in my heart

I wanna do something that matters
Say something different
Something that sets the whole world on its ear
Wanna do something better
With the time I’ve been given
I wanna try
To touch a few hearts in this life
And leave nothing less than something that says
I was here

I will prove you wrong
If you think I’m all talk
You’re in for a shock ‘cause this dreams too strong
Before too long

Maybe I’ll compose symphonies
Maybe I’ll fight for world peace
‘Cause I know it’s my destiny
to leave more than a trace of myself in this place

I know that I will do more than just pass through this life
I’ll leave nothing less than something that says
I was here

15 February 2011

When they finished laughing

I would like to thank the Marine Corps for returning Bestie to me.  It is so good to talk to him and pull out the phone to text whenever I feel like it. 

When they finished laughing they were on their way to being not just friends, but the dearest of friends, the sort of friends whose lives are shaped by the friendship.

11 February 2011

Welcome Home

With a deep sigh of relief:
Welcome Home, Marine.

Welcome Home.

Oh, how we have missed you.

12 January 2011

Remembering Pfc Gunnar Becker

One inescapable fact about war is that there will be casualties.  When nations wage war men and women will die.  They will be young.  They will be missed.  They will be gone, as Seeger says, forever lost to "some disputed barricade." 

There is an old, traditional song entitled Hard Times that reminds us that we must account for these things that are hard to acknowledge.   It begins, "Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears..."  Often, the hard times are the ones we want to forget.  The harsh reality of young men and women in uniform not coming home is certainly a reality we as a society wish to ignore.  

But we cannot ignore them.  We cannot hide from them.  We must pause our own lives for a moment to count life's tears.  There are many tears to be shed for our fallen, not just in the moment their names are released to stream on the scrolling news bar, but for the many moments after where their absence is felt.

One of the casualties of our current wars is Pfc. Gunnar D Becker, 19, Forestburg, South Dakota.  Gunnar was a tanker stationed out of Vilseck, Germany.  Today, January 12, 2005, he was living the last day of his life.  By the end of the next, January 13, 2005, his rendezvous with Death had come to pass.  The disputed barricade where he gave his life was came on a battlefield in Iraq.  

By all accounts, Gunnar was someone you'd be lucky to call a friend.   Despite his youth, he had a commitment to his chosen profession.  He knew the risks.  He believed in what he was doing.  He possessed the values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment that too many of his peers lack.  He understood service and undertook the greatest act of service there is, service to one's country.  He stood the watch for us, protecting us and the ideals of our nation.  He was willing to give his life for a cause that was greater than himself.   The phrase "the price of freedom" is thrown around a lot by the media, sometimes seriously, mostly around Memorial Day, but mostly facetiously.  But the true price of freedom ultimately is the life of Pfc Gunnar Becker and those like him who defend our nation.  That is what it has always been. 

Gunnar gave his life for his country.  He paid the ultimate price.  For this reason, many would call him a hero.  I would argue that it is not his death that makes him one.  He is a hero for the way he lived his life.  It reminds me of  FDNY Chief Ed Croker's words while speaking upon the deaths of a deputy chief and four firemen in a 1908 blaze.  He said of their bravery: 
"Firemen are going to get killed.  When they join the department they face that fact.  When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished.  What he does after that is all in the line of work.  They were not thinking of getting killed when they went where death lurked.  They went there to put the fire out, and got killed.  Firefighters do not regard themselves as heroes because they do what the business requires."
Indeed, Gunnar's greatest act of bravery was accomplished when he took the oath of enlistment and promised to protect and defend the United States of America.   He went where the job sent him and did what the job required.  This is what makes him hero.

But it does not lessen the pain of his loss for those who loved and knew him.  He is still gone from them.  There are no words we can offer to make this loss better.

Instead, we must offer what we can: acknowledgement.

Pfc. Gunnar D Becker lost his life in service to our country.  Today, and everyday, I remember him.  I remember him as an individual who is no longer here to leave his mark on the world.  I remember his family who must face his absence daily.

Laurence Binyon wrote of the fallen in World War I that "they will not grow old, as we that are left grow old:/ age will not weary them, nor the years condemn."  With each year that passes, I become more aware of the truth in these lines.

As another anniversary of his death nears Gunnar remains as he was.

And we must remember him.

02 January 2011

Film: The Dry Land

I just finished the independent film, The Dry Land.  It blew me away.  I'm usually wary of films depicting military veterans or soldiers in general.  They usually do not strike the right tone, are two inaccurate, or are just plain insulting.  I left this one with the feeling that the actors and the film makers "got it."  There was a sincerity to the acting and to the storytelling that impressed me.

From actress America Ferrera "There is a disconnect in our society....  Everyone wants a hero but no one wants to see or think about what they had to go through to be that hero."

The journey home post war and post military is different for every person.  The experience is different for every family.  The film brings a reality to one way that it can go.  I'm not going to summarize the plot or try to delve into the reasons why the film resonated.

I am just going to say that it is powerful.  Watch it and take what you want away from it.