Friday, May 28, 2010

A Marine, A Professor, and so much more...

Memorial Day rolls around this weekend and I hope everyone stops for just a moment to honor all those who have served and given their all.
We've waved a flag proudly in our backyard for many years...It's a constant reminder of our freedom and pride in our country and our military. 

I'm the proud sister of a Marine. My brother served in the Vietnam war, he rose to the rank of Captain in a very short time. He was only 24 when he was seriously wounded in battle. He wasn't expected to return to us, but he did. He spent the remainder of his life confined to a wheelchair, but no one seemed to notice that...certainly not him.

{A future Marine}

He became a husband, a father, and an advocate for those who continued to return broken from a very unpopular war. He earned a doctorate degree, became a tenured college professor, and a godfather to two of my children. His leadership skills were noted in a Marine Corps training manual, he authored an English textbook used in many universities...he was humble and tireless.

{My big brother and I...1966}

He was a Marine, and he never forgot that. He became other things, held other titles after the war, but once a Marine always a Marine.

He wasn't able to beat the cancer that hit him in his late forties. In one short year he was gone...but never forgotten. He passed away the very day the Gulf War ended. It was written by a fellow Marine that Bill stayed until he knew his Marines were coming home. I believe that.
The Marine Corps honored him in style, his students paid their respects in droves, and friends were too many to count. And I'm sure he knew.

We're in the midst of yet another unpopular war. Don't think of that. Those who serve are the pride of our nation, the war they fight may be judged...but those who serve should never be. Every soldier has a story, and a life...we should try harder to remember that.

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.

-Kelly Strong

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