Less than one percent of Americans serve in our armed forces—put themselves in harms way—as do their families.
It’s so easy to take these men and women for granted because they always seem to be where we need them, when we need them. But so many of them fall in so many different ways.
Some of these have fallen not in death but injury, disabling injury—limb-severing injury.
Others of these have fallen in spirit, wounded spirit, life-threatening spirit.
Some defenders of our land, our way of life, have fallen in both of these traumas, only to persevere and rise again, as they once did in battle for us. Some still struggle, nonetheless, valiantly.
Yes, some of these brave souls once trekked the amber waves of America the beautiful, but are now confined to small rooms, and just glimmers of blue sky. Yet, they still consider themselves—fortunate.
These platinum warriors have intimate, haunting memories of platoon-kin who fell in bursts of fired cannon,
and now lay in earth’s bed:
But these survivors know, how damned good it is—to still be alive.
These warriors served in, and still fight on in—active duty.
May I present a poem by my Brother NYC Transit cop, Mike Bloom.
Mike, writer of poetry for 35 years, is not a disabled veteran. But to me, in his poem, he seems to actually become the body and mind of one who served for us. Mike said he wrote it “in dedication to all who served in the military throughout time.”
As I look out the window…of my small room
where days have passed…trying to find the once I’ve known
but now as the window’s view, shows me skies that pass
I too must step to follow the sky that doesn’t last
Soldiers of all time….the tears shed by those who stepped as I
to follow the trumpets, as the others who walked before….on by
as they too, I am no longer one who resembles the young soldier
….of yesterday’s, twenty plus one
In a moment…such a brief moment…as I recall each day…now, in my small room
the noise…the burst of fired canon…commands of discipline…follow to order
that drove my soul to raise my arms, to step in defense of this country
in defense of all who gave me breath…my home…to save from death
I am the one…the fortunate one, who can still see the sky as it passes for me
I am the one…the fortunate one, who can still say my name and know the day, as it shall be
I am the one…the fortunate one, who can still cry and kiss the lips of my lover
this shall never deny me…as not for those who now lay in earth’s bed…for all eternity
Today I shall rise from my bed, with the help of another…..
in my small room…where the sky passes and tells me to step with my soul to the tune
of the trumpet, that led me to raise my arms, that are no longer
as I now step with my soul, as my legs…that are no longer
To continue…in defense of my country
in defense of all who gave me breath…to call my home…to save from death
that I am the fortunate one, who can tell another
that this soldier’s duty…will be active forever
Every year, we commemorate our platinum Americans who died in service to us. I say platinum because they are so rare. Yes, again—just one percent.
I’m sure if they could, they’d be joining you and your families in barbecues, beer, and baseball this weekend. That’s what they served for, died for—our American way of life. But freedom has a cost, and it’s our one percent and their families who pay that cost.
So as we honor our fallen may we also revere their families; they will only have memories as they gather this weekend. The pain they suffered in loss is no less than the pain their loved ones endured in battle.
A loved one can be so much a part of a family they can become as an appendage, an arm, a leg, or even as part of their heart. So when that family member is ripped from them in war, I think they feel the loss as an amputation. I think they might feel agony as their heart is torn by jagged, emotional shrapnel.
Many parents, I’m sure, would rather it were they who died far from home, and their loved one returned to their home.
Yes, when our young serve—their families serve.
If you find the time in your busy Memorial Day weekend, please consider viewing my essay video about an Oceanside Marine, Greg Buckley. Greg might have surfed our Long Beach shore and had a few cold ones with some of you.
His family allowed me access to his funeral ten years ago, I think they wanted his sacrifice fully noted by America. So please note it and honor Greg and his family, along with all of our fallen—and their families. My essay video: https://tinyurl.com/Hourofourdeath
Then yes, have a cold one for Marine Lance Cpl Greg Buckley—and all of our veterans.
Categories: Memorial Day, Veterans
Diane, thank you for your comment. Yes, the loss of life goes way beyond the men and women who fall in war. Their families are felled too.
Lee your essay video of Greg Buckley’s funeral showed a family who lost part of themselves when Greg lost his life protesting us and our nation. Your essay video was beautiful and reminded me to remember all the fallen men, women and their families every day and especially every Memorial Day.