Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Ultimate Sacrifice

I just returned from a heart-wrenching memorial service for soldiers who died while supporting combat operations this week here in Afghanistan. I didn’t know these men, or even recognize their faces or names, but the least I could do was attend their memorial service and pay my last respect. This is the second of these services I’ve attended here, both of them for soldiers from the same company. I feel for them all.

I sent a detailed e-mail to my wife, Judi, a couple of weeks ago describing how I have become much more emotional after serving on this deployment. I find myself unable to hold back tears when I witness, or even hear or read about, the outstanding things our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen are doing in this war. I held it together throughout most of the ceremony today; even through all the stories, recounted by their fellow soldiers, about what great men they were – true American Heroes. It wasn’t until the end of the ceremony, when they do the “roll call”, that my emotions got the best of me. In the roll call, the unit of the fallen soldiers stands at attention in formation when the Company First Sergeant begins calling random names of the company and they reply with a hearty “here First Sergeant!” The First Sergeant then calls for one of the fallen and it goes something like this:

First Sergeant: Specialist Doe!
No response
First Sergeant (after a short pause): Specialist John Doe!
No response
First Sergeant (again, after a pause): Specialist John Andrew Doe!
No Response

You then hear the Final Volleys (21-Gun Salute), followed by the playing of Taps, and then everyone in attendance approaches the helmet, boots and rifle of the fallen to give one “final salute” for giving the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE. May God bless the families of these great men.

I hope I never have to attend another one of these ceremonies.

Take care,



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