Tomorrow is Memorial Day. In years past, I was always eager to celebrate this event with a day off of school/work, an outdoor concert, and a grilled feast.
This year, it is hitting me a little different. Don't get me wrong. I still plan on living outdoors and the barbeque menu is all lined up. But I think that living on post and being submerged in the Army lifestyle has tweaked my thinking a bit.
Our lost service members are nationally memoralized on this specific day, but on a military base they are memorialized every single day. You can't miss the fallen as they are everywhere: A building, a parade field, a statue, a stickered decal for a car, a tattoo...
This year as I celebrate I will also remember two specific heroes.
The first is Lt Zac Cook. Zac was a personal acquaintance of mine and my husband's good friend. They commissioned as Army officers together in December 2008. They worked together at Texas A&M while they waited for starting orders. They were working together at a training exercise that following January when Zac died in a helicopter crash. The day of the accident, one soldier had fallen, but five fresh lieutenants where turned into true leaders. One brave soldier had fallen, but a field of hopeful cadets where given a fresh perspective and a stronger commitment to their duty and directive. Zac had served exactly a month to the day he commissioned, but trust me when I say, it only takes a month to make a hero.
The second I personally do not know as well. His name is Lt Robert Bennedsen. My husband and he became friends during Officer's Leadership Course and he later requested to be my facebook friend--I guess once he considered Nathan his battle buddy I became a teammate by association ;)-- After the course they parted ways and Robert was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 2nd Calvary Regiment with whom he deployed to Afghanistan. It was not until we were reading the Army Times a year later when we learned he had died of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. I don't think I have to defend my opinion to anyone when I say there is no greater qualifier for heroism than laying down your life for another man; Robert did it for an entire nation of men.
I am honored to have known these men however briefly, on whatever little level I have. I know that there are many others who are remembering husbands, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends...
And I hope that as we sit at our table to eat our burgers and dogs we will all raise a toast to these fallen heroes and thank them for their service, courage, and sacrifice.
I'll end this entry with one of my husband's favorite quotes:
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."