Monday, June 04, 2007

Band of Brothers

Dear Brother,

I am writing to apologize. I'm sorry I didn't call to say good-bye before you left. I'm sorry you've been deployed for weeks and I have yet to write to you. My job sucks, again, and the wife struggles daily to find her place here in Cheboygan. We are both desperately seeking God's plan for us. These are not legitimate excuses- I know. I feel like such a terrible person (not to mention brother) for being wrapped up in my own little world and my own problems that now seem quite petty in light of the things you must be facing day-to-day. It's not that I haven't thought about you. On the contrary you are in my daily thoughts; and as often as you are in my thoughts, you are in my prayers. I know that you can not say, but I pray that you are in a safe place.

Our youngest brother’s Memorial Day email to you was right on, of course. On Saturday, the wife and I went to the Memorial Day parade in Mackinaw City. It was kind of hokie, but it was led by a Coast Guard color guard and the streets were lined with people who rose to their feet, clapped and cheered as the colors passed. It was followed by a group of old veterans, dressed in their uniforms, shuffling by and carrying the flags of their respective service branches. Again the crowd rose and clapped. As they passed the wife leaned over to me and said, "This makes me so proud to be an American". It made me proud too, brother. I assure you that prideful, hokie parades like this one were going on in small towns all across our nation this past weekend. Those old guys and the wife's comment brought me back to reality. It made me wonder what makes the war on terror so different from WWII? Really, the question is why is our nation's response so dichotomous? I would submit to you that you and your comrades in arms are no different than our great uncle and his were 63 years ago as they prepared for the invasion of Normandy. I believe this is a struggle against evil and just as righteous as any previous conflicts.

It's easy to become disillusioned and embittered as I watch the masses of our society plunge themselves into complacency and narcissism. The people with the biggest mouths on TV are also the most ignorant... people like Baghdad Rosie (O'Donnell). They who sacrifice nothing are more than willing to exercise their freedoms (and their mouths) without ever knowing the price, in blood, that our nation's sons and daughters have paid for them. But Baghdad Rosie doesn't write the history books, nor do politicians like Billery. I pray that when this is all over, the books will tell the story right. The truth is there is an evil in the world larger than we could have possibly fathomed from the comforts and complacency of pre-9/11 America. When the rest of the world looked the other way, you and your comrades took the fight to the enemy and said, "Not on our watch". Brother, I can not speak for the rest of our nation, but as long as my lungs carry breath- this is the story that I will tell my children and grandchildren (or anyone foolish enough to listen to me). Our nation, whatever it's faults, is still the greatest on earth. As I drove to work in the morning, I did not fear IED's on the roadside. When I walk down our streets, I do not fear being kidnapped by terrorists. When I go to bed tonight, I will not hear the rumble of rocket and mortar fire. I firmly believe that the blood of our nation's son and daughters is not being shed in vein. There are those of us back here who still know that- and appreciate it. Thank you to you and your comrades for bravely facing the enemy to provide us this peace that some have taken for granted. Please spread the word over there that we appreciate all of your sacrifices and are very proud of you all.

On Sunday, in church, our pastor acknowledged our veterans and gave a great sermon on the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the name of freedom. Afterwards, the kindly old couple that sits next to us regularly turned to me and thanked me for my service too. I cracked. I was so ashamed to receive their gratitude while you and your comrades left your families as well as the peace, comfort and security of home to defend those who can not defend themselves, ensure that this great evil knows we will not turn a blind eye... and so that someday our children may not have to face such peril.

I was reminded of Shakespeare's famous speech in Henry V:

If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Brother, do you remember when we were kids playing guns in the woods at the farm during the summer? The men of the military were our heroes. Vietnam was history and we wondered if our generation would ever have a chance to be heroes too. Even back then, we recognized their great sacrifice. We are no longer kids, and this is certainly no longer a game. Our day has come... just as it did for our father... just as it did for our grandfathers and uncles. Brother, I firmly believe this to be our Saint Crispin's day. I often wonder if I have done enough. Will I someday, years from now, think myself accurs'd I was not there with you? Will I forever hold my manhood cheap when veterans speak of these days? (I certainly hope Baghdad Rosie will.) You have selflessly answered the call to join the "band of brothers". You are our hero. Know that we are so proud of you we can hardly stand it. We will continue to pray for your safe return. Until then, fight with courage and honor, brother. God-bless.

Love your brother,
ben

1 Comments:

At 8:33 AM, Blogger rnjmorgan said...

You said it very well. It was a wonderful tribute to your brother and to all veterans. I nominate you to speak at Gettysburg next year. God bless America

 

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