Some Faces & Names Behind Why We Have Memorial Day 2010
As we approach Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to pay tribute to our soldiers and military. In particular, I wanted to share with you the story of Sgt. Adam Ray.
Michael Yon wrote a fitting tribute to this young man. It does not give me pleasure today to write of how ashamed I am of our President. He has decided to be the first President in the history of this tradition to refuse to visit Arlington Cemetary, this 2010 Memorial Day week and weekend approaching.
How can he ignore the sacrifice, those who gave all, those who have given limbs and those who serve him as Commander in Chief? How can he not pay tribute all weekend long – and throughout all the months of his Presidency to heroes like Adam Ray? I don’t understand the man, but I still pray for him.
I still can’t read Yon’s article without crying. He was a soldier in my son’s unit. What this story doesn’t tell is that my son Alex was getting on a helicopter to take him home for his leave on the same day Adam was getting off a helicopter to return from his own leave. He saw him some yards away. They exchanged grettings and talked a bit.
It was mere days after that Adam was killed. Alex found out home here in Michigan. When he heard the news, he said incredulously, “I just talked to him…he was back from his leave…” If his thoughts were my thoughts he was thinking, “That could be me next.”
I have to write here very frankly. It hurts. It hurts my heart deeply that our President seems to show such disregard for our brave men and woman who serve this country – who serve him – in the war against terror. I cannot imagine what heartbreak Adam’s family must feel. He was 23 years old – he was so very young. I can not imagine and I pray every single day I will never have to imagine – what it would be like to lose the son you gave birth to.
I fight the fear. It is only due to my faith that I don’t have to be in “battle” constantly. Sometimes though – especially when I lie in my comfortable bed at night or I wake first thing in the morning – it gets to me. My heart races – I feel the raw terror of the thoughts that go through my head. What if he dies? What if he is – I can barely finish the thought – captured? This whole thing is turned upside down! I’m the one who is supposed to go before him protecting him, making sure he’s had enough to eat and that he’s had enough sleep. That’s almost comical, isn’t it? I have to chuckle myself as the tears stream down my cheeks and I type this.
But I actually imagine myself going out there in front of him—then reality hits me. I’m not made of that kind of stuff. Even in my younger days, I couldn’t withstand the conditions these soldiers have to live with day after day after day. My son said he sometimes goes for a month – all of them do in the Styker Brigade – without showering – living out in the open – only cat napping. FOR A MONTH! He didn’t complain when my jaw dropped as he described this to me. A crooked smile spread across his face and he just said, “It’s not so bad Mom, really it’s not.” My eyes fill up with fresh tears when I write this.
I want to throw my arms around him and take any bullet that
may head his way. I want to protect him so badly – I think about it almost every
day, each time I pray. I don’t want a hair on his beautiful head touched. He was only 23 this past May 5th. He has seen his daughter Kaylee only about four weeks of
her almost one year on this planet. He never got to go on a honeymoon with his
wife Kristen. They celebrated their first anniversary with Alex in Afghanistan
and Kristen back here waiting for him to get a call through.
I’m sure Adam’s parents felt the same way. Wanting so desperately to protect their son. But the unthinkable happened. I don’t know how their heart can take it! I do know actually – apparently Adam’s father is a minister.
That is the only way – and I stress THE only way I am getting through this past year my baby has been deployed. I love my husband with all my heart. I have been married over 30 years and have survived a number of deployments. It’s so different when it’s your baby – your only son. The one you prayed God would give you. The amazing son God blessed you with.
I had given birth to two wonderful, lovely, sweet girls. I wanted a boy so very much. I had never wanted anything more in my life at the time. When he was born – it truly was one of the most joyous days, one of the most thrilling moments I’ve ever experienced. The doctor didn’t say yet if it was a boy or girl. I started to lift my head and saw to my right a “stream” arc up into the air while the nurse dodged. The doctor said, “Well, the plumbing is obviously working! Say hello to your new son Carol!”
He has been a wonderfully devoted son and now husband and father. His “Pops” and I are proud beyond measure of him. I fairly burst with pride.
I pray for his safe return to Kaylee and Kristen. I know I’ll sleep deeper at night. I know Kristen will too.
I will keep praying for Mr. Obama to feel compassion and to extend grace to our soldiers. I heard a pundit say today that Mr. Obama is obviously “uncomfortable” around the military. He was a Democrat too – he hoped Mr. Obama would overcome this and extend himself as the expert believed he should.
Memorial Day is the perfect opportunity, but for now, according to the President’s schedule this week, sadly—a golden opportunity lost.
Alex is supposed to come home between the last week in June and the first week of July. This “countdown” almost is worse than ever. I wait, I pray and I now count the days down – and I ask you, if you are reading this, please pray if you pray. If you don’t pray, please remember all of these men and woman and if you would, please consider passing this on. Let’s put a face on what it is we do this Memorial day weekend.