Two stories came to my attention today. Two stories about our Fallen that show in stunning clarity the disconnect between those who wear civvies and those who love those who wear camis:
Supper With a Hero
(from The Thunder Run)
As an Army wife, you quickly learn that living in on post military housing is always an opportunity to learn. My 8 year old neighbor and military child Katherine Birdsong was at our house admiring our Christmas Tree with our son John Jr. I was busy in the kitchen preparing supper when I heard her say, “and tonight we will be eating supper with a hero.” I smiled as I thought about her Dad, LTC Birdsong with Task Force Lightening, returning today along with the rest of his unit. Then I realized that due to a delay the soldiers would not be home til after midnight. What hero I thought to myself? I hadn’t heard on the news or paper about any hero’s coming to our post.
So I popped my head in the living room and asked her, “so I hear your eating with a hero tonight. Who is it?”
Katherine stood up with the twinkling of Christmas Tree lights behind her, clasped her hands together and then asked “Ms Murray do you know
SPC Harris?” Before I could answer she looked down and said in a solemn voice, “he was a soldier with my Dad. But he won’t be coming home tonight. He died in Afghanistan.” Silence filled the air. Katherine said, “tonight after midnight my Dad comes home and all the other soldiers come home but SPC Harris isn’t.” I could feel the tears began to fill my eyes and the large lump in my throat.
“SPC Harris’s family is coming over to eat supper with our family.” “So you’re having supper with a hero’s family but the hero won’t be there.” I said thinking she had just made a grammatical error.
Katherine shook her head again firmly and said with all earnest, “He will be there. We may not see him with our eyes but he will be there. SPC Harris’ mom, brother and little girl will be eating with us. They are all a part of him so you see he will be there.” Sometimes, I thought to myself we don’t realize the depth of children’s wisdom.
I asked Katherine what her mother was preparing for supper. She smiled and said, “chicken soup.” I thought this was odd choice to have for supper with company coming. Chicken soup?” I questioned. Katherine’s mom, Lisa Birdsong, is known for her great dishes, but chicken soup?
It seemed ……….well………..so plain. “Yes, chicken soup.” Katherine noted the questioning look on my face.
“Ms Murray you know when you are sick and medicine doesn’t make you better, and even your sister letting you play her games doesn’t make you better? Well when I feel this way my Mom makes chicken soup to make me feel better. Tonight SPC Harris’ family will be really sad when they see my Daddy coming home and all the other soldiers. So my Mom is making chicken soup to maybe make them feel not so sad.” I smiled at this logic.
Then realizing the time Katherine said good bye to John Jr and me ………….off to eat supper with a hero I thought as I looked out my kitchen window.
Later that night I told my husband about the conversation that had taken place. John reminded me of part of the Soldier’s Creed, “never leave a fallen comrade.” How sometimes that people think that it means turning around on a PT run to help a soldier catch up or not leaving a soldier on the battlefield. It is much more than that. It is never leaving that fallen comrades memory behind either.
Submitted by Ingrid Murray
The Flag at Half Mast - Letter from AWV Member Marikay Satryano
(from American Women Veterans’s Notes)
Interesting point for all the female and male Veterans who are attending state schools. I am spending my hard earned benefits attending a community college in NY. Whenever a soldier from the state of NY, either a Native or someone stationed here, is KIA, the Govenor of NY sends a message to all state institutions to lower the flag to half mast for one day. His/her name, hometown, unit and where/when killed is part of the emailed message that is sent to NY institutions. It’s sent to the colleges, the colleges send it to the faculty.
I’ve attended my college for one year: the flag has flown at half mast, woefully, many times. I asked, “For whom is it lowered?” and have received the dumb down version of the Governor-to-NY institutions process. “Yes, I understand this. But WHO died?” The response from administrators is “Some soldier,” on a good day, ” I deleted the email,” on another, or usually, “I don’t know.”
When I asked the college community relations director if he could simply post the message from the governor on the school’s website, in a discreet yet honorable place, his response was “It’s not relevant.”
So, it appears that in the USA we now not only have one singular but rather many memorials to The Unknown Soldier.
The flag is lowered for a person we know has a name, a family, a hometown but in this information age, his/her name remains “unknown”.
The administration kept directing my inquiry to “why don’t you form a Veteran’s group, get petitions, put it out on your own facebook page, etc, etc.” When, with simply a one sentence memo from the president of the college, which receives over 200 veteran’s tuition benefits the identification of our fallen brother and sister would be known.
They would rather make it a “niche” group’s little pet project. It is not simply MY interest as a Veteran to know my brother and sister in arms name. It is everyone who enjoys the benefits of living in our country’s INTEREST.
When such a small percentage of our citizenry (about 1%) step up to do a job so many won’t or can’t do, seems to me we could at least know the name of the Warrior for whom our flag is at half mast.
These Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors are not just a number on the nightly news. No. They have names. They are also someone’s son, daughter, wife, husband, mother, father, niece, nephew, cousin, grandson, granddaughter and friend.
It’s way past time for us to get to know more about those who wear the uniform of these United States. This Administration is not Military friendly, no matter how many lunches Mrs. I Won has lunch with Military wives. The media pants after the anti-war, anti-military idiots when ever they gather to protest but has little time for those of us who love, support and believe in the mission of those in uniform. Apparently, what we have to say in our pride for our kids, spouses, relatives or friends doesn’t fit their agenda and isn’t worth a minute’s airtime.
Call a Soldier a “baby-killer“? Front page accolades.
Call a Marine a “murderer“? Instant interview shown on all news stations over and over again.
Call a Soldier, Marine, Airman, Sailor or Coastie a Hero? Welcome to the sound of silence.
After 9 years of war, there are those wearing the uniform who still think America doesn’t give a s#@t. (Thank you, media…)
Our Military has been under attack by the (now professional) anti-war protesters since the Vietnam War. Now those same folks are in the House, the Senate and the Supreme Court ~ and their acolytes are in the White House.
If your local government is flying the flag at half mast, do you even know why?