Saturday, August 21, 2010

We Remember the Fallen

"Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
Ands I was fill'd with such delight
As prison'd birds must find in freedom
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields;
   on; on; and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted
And beauty came like the setting sun.
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away .  .  .  O but every one
Was a bird; and the song was wordless;
  the singing will never be done."
  --Siegfried Sassoon , written in celebration of
  the end of the war.

Funny-I haven't heard many cries of celebration since it was announced that the war in Iraq was over for us and that our men and women would be coming home. My hometown paper consigned the news to page 6 I think the second day the announcement was made and troops were already arriving home.

The Friday New York Times quotes Master Sgt. Noel R. Sawyer as saying, "It's not going to be like V.E. Day. Rather than being a defining moment, it's going to peter out. In  a way, it sucks, but it's a good thing."

Maybe we have forgotten how to celebrate. We seem more concerned with if our President really is a Christian or a Muslim, if we should let the Muslims build a Community Center two blocks from Ground Zero and why President Obama doesn't stay home from his vacation when everything seems to be going down the tubes? Can't we let it all go and just celebrate the fact that part of this war in the Middle East really is coming to an end. Can't we share in the joy of the troops as they get off those planes and get hugged by wives and children and Mamas and Daddies?

I know 50,000 troops will remain as some kind of peace-keeping effort--unfortunately we always do this. And I know the war in Afghanistan rages on and we wonder if it will ever end. But I think about Siegfried Sassoon who wrote the celebratory poem at the beginning of this piece. He had left behind a multitude of friends who had died and he was going home to a land that was bombed out and in terrible shape. And yet he paused to celebrate the power of a very great moment.

Over 4,415 American troops have been killed in Iraq since this war started in 2003. 44 American soldiers have died this year in that country. And yet even with all this pain-- we need to pause a moment and do two things: celebrate the fact this war really does have and ending and few others will die on Iraqi soil. But then I want you to join me in remembering those who have died in June, July and the first part of August in Iraq.  The homecoming of those who get off the planes must be bittersweet for those who know their sons and daughters will never be home again. And so--even as we celebrate let us remember these who have fallen for us in Iraq as this war winds down.

Pfc. Francisco Javier Guardado-Ramirez / age 21 / Sunland, NMex / Died of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident in Baghdad, Iraq / June 2, 2010.

Sgt. Steve Martin Theobald / age 53 / Goose Creek, SC / Died of injuries sustained in a military vehicle rollover near Kuwait City, Kuwait / June 4, 2010.

Sgt. Israel Paul O'Brien / age 24 / Newbern, TN / One of two soldiers killed when insurgents attacked their unit with a suicide car bomb in Jalula, Iraq / June 11, 2010.

Cpl. William Christopher Yauch / age 23 / The second soldier killed when those insurgents attacked his unit with a suicide car bomb in Jalula, Iraq / June11, 2010.

Spc. Christopher Wesley Opat / age 29 / Died of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident in Baquba, Iraq / June 15, 2010.

Capt. Michael Paul Cassidy / age 41 / Simpsonville, SC / Died of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident in Mosul, Iraq / June 17, 2010.

Spc. Jacob Parke Dohrenwend / age 20 / Milford,  USA / Died of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident at Balad, Iraq / June 21 ,2010.

Pfc. Bryant Jamal Haynes / age 21 / Epps, LA. Died of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover in Diwaniya, Iraw / June 28, 2010.

Spc. Morganne Marie McBeth / age 19 / Died in Asad, Iraq of wounds sustained July 1, 2010 in a non-combat related incident in Khan Al Baghdad, Iraq / July 2, 2010.

Sgt. Johnny Wayne Lumpkin / age 38 / Columbus, GA / Died in Balad, Iraq of wounds sustained July 1, 2010 in a non-combat related equipment incident in Taji, Iraq / July 2, 2010.

Sgt. Jordan Elias Tuttle/ age 22 / West Monroe, LA / Died of injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident in Baghdad/ July 2, 2010.

Ist Lt. Michael Louis Runyan / age 24 / Newark, Ohio / Died in Balad, Iraq of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his convoy vehicle with a roadside bomb in Muqdadiya, Iraq / July 21 2010.

Spc. Faith Renee Hinkley / age 23 / Colorado Springs, COL/ Died  in Baghdad, Iraq of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked her unit in Iskandariya,  Iraq / August, 7, 2010.

Spc. Jamal M. Rhett / age 24 / Palymyra, NJ / Died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his vehicle with grenades in  Baquba province / Iraq / August 15, 2010.

Prayer for Peace

"May the memory of two world wars strengthen our efforts for peace,
 May the memory of those who died inspire our service to the living,
 May the memory of past destruction move us to build for the future,
O God of peace,
O Father of souls,
O Builder of the Kingdom of Love."
    --George Appleton

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