I'm not exactly sure, but the topic of the War on Terror has been a topic alot in our home over the last week. My suspicion is that it started on Wednesday morning when I heard the news of my newly elected Commander-in-Chief. Regardless of my political leanings, I have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and that knows no Republican or Democratic Party nor does it allow me to choose whom I take orders from. Later in the week, I was at work in Canton and in the newspaper, read about a military funeral to take place on Saturday (yesterday) for Stark County's first fallen soldier during the war in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). I last attended a very similiar service a few miles from my home last year and it is an event that rocked me to my core. A flag-draped coffin, family members in pain from the emotion of their lost hero, the playing of Taps, and the ceremonial folded flag given to the surviving spouse. I attended that service in my full dress uniform to pay respect to my fallen countryman and also in an attempt to raise awareness in my small town of people who have served and currently serve and reside among us. It is very easy in our small nook in NE Ohio to become insulated from the reality of war, which continues to this day a half-world away, but receives so very little media attention anymore. It pains me to see flags go up for the "holiday" and quickly pulled back down the day after. The flag is not a Christmas wreath, nor a pumpkin that is to be set out during the "season." It represents our country and the blood shed to keep it flying. If you fly your flag, please keep it up, not only this Tuesday but all year round.
The soldier who was killed on October 27th in Afghanistan was killed by a suicide bomber. He was 22 years old and has 3 and 2 year old sons. His wife is also in the Army. He was in secure compound but still fell prey to those trained to kill him, simply because of the country whom he swore to protect. I encourage you to read the Repository's article on the service. It is in today's paper and can be read here. The story, even though I have never met this family and probably never will, hit home. Perhaps it is because the fallen soldier's name is Nick so reading it just felt strange. The fact that he was killed in a secure compound added to this as this type of location is most like where I'll find myself when the time comes for me to go. The photo is of his wife receiving his folded flag at the conclusion of the service.
As this Tuesday rolls around, please take a moment or two to remember and to honor those who have served before, and to constantly remind yourself of those in harm's way this very second in places several time zones away. It is so easy to forget about them when we don't see or hear about them....but they are still there. For me, my 6 month old federal job has some cool perks and one of those is federal holidays. Since I have Tuesday off, I am going to head up to my girls' elementary school and talk to the Kindergarten and 2nd Grade classes and have lunch with them in my uniform. I hope to get lots of questions and have really good dialogue with all of them. I have found it difficult in my own home to translate and explain what the military is to my kids. All they see is Daddy "going to the Navy" once a month but their understanding stops there. The best way I can make it understandable is bringing it down to service...they get that. They know what it means to serve. In this case, it's just service to our United States to maintain all the freedoms we enjoy 24/7. For young kids, this seems like the most tangible message they can take home with them.