"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

13 January 2013

Remembering Gunnar

I haven't taken the time to write since life decided to toss me upon the rocks about this time last year.  But I cannot let this day go by without reflecting on the passage of time.  Today marks 8 years since the loss of a very special young man.  A soldier.  A son.

There are those who do not know this part of me.  They will ask: Who is this man?  and  Who is this man to you?  To their Facebook queries and offhand inquiries I will tell them just that. He is a soldier.  A son.  A fallen hero.  He deserves to be remembered.  You must remember his name. He is a casualty of war.  You must remember that he is a person.  And he has left behind very real people who still mourn him but have carried on.  

Who is he to me?  He is the soft note of sorrow in every sad and patriotic song.  He is "the land of the free and the home of the brave."  The red in the stripes that fly overhead.  To me he is the first casualty in a list that continues to grow.  He made me understand what I had begun and its importance. Where pride and pain intersect.  He is a drop in the bucket that turned a project into a mission.    Honor.  Courage. Commitment.  Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage.  He taught me more than he could ever know.  In some ways, Gunnar was one of those first defining steps into the realities of adulthood.  He prepared me to send someone I love to war.  He prepared me for Will.  For Jessica and Jonathon.  For Kyle.   

 The things that I've learned in the last nine years, the things I have been taught, are why I cannot walk away.  Gunnar is a part of that. I cannot accept the refrain: "Haven't you done enough? Just stop with the letters. The boxes.  The names.  The stories.  Walk away."  But I am the keeper of stories, even if many of them now live in a footlocker in my garage or inside me, tucked away and guarded.  I will not break faith with those who live or those who die.  Steve, wherever you are, I will keep my promise.  I will not let them be forgotten.  

Since Gunnar was also a poet I offer this tribute in verse.  May your words forever live beside these as they capture the life and experience of soldiers.  I can't wait to hang out with you some day. In the meantime, your mom is pretty remarkable.  Keep looking after her and exercising those angel wings.  You will live forever in the memories of those who knew you and you can be assured that you will not be forgotten.

This We'll Defend.

PFC Gunnar Becker
January 22, 1985 - January 13, 2005

The Kid Has Gone to the Colors
William Herschell
in The Indianapolis News
The Kid has gone to the Colors
And we don't know what to say;
The Kid we have loved and cuddled
Stepped out for the Flag today.
We thought him a child, a baby,
With never a care at all,
But his country called him man--size
And the Kid has heard the call.
He paused to watch the recruiting
Where, fired by the fife and drum,
He bowed his head to Old Glory
And thought that it whispered "Come!"
The Kid, not being a slacker,
Stood forth with patriot-joy
To add his name to the roster--
And God, we're proud of the boy!
The Kid has gone to the Colors;
It seems but a little while
Since he drilled a schoolboy army
In a truly martial style.
But now he's a man, a soldier,
And we lend him listening ear,
For his heart is a heart all loyal,
Unscourged by the curse of fear.
His dad, when he told him, shuddered,
His mother--God bless her!--cried!
Yet, blest with a mother-nature,
She wept with a mother--pride.
But he whose old shoulders straightened
Was Granddad--for memory ran
To years when he, too, a youngster,

Was changed by the Flag to a man!

To the Fallen--Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

The Heart-Cry

She turned the page of wounds and death 
With trembling fingers. In a breath 
The gladness of her life became 
Naught but a memory and a name. 

Farewell! Farewell! I might not share 
The perils it was yours to dare. 
Dauntless you fronted death: for me 
Rests to face life as fearlessly. 

F.W. Bourdillon