The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

LIVE FREE, DIE WELL |

May 31, 2009

LIVE FREE, DIE WELL
Name: Alex Horton
Posting date: 5/31/09
Returned from: Iraq
Hometown: Frisco, TX
Milblog: Army of Dude   
Email: hortonhearsit@hotmail.com

A Memorial Day post:

My old team leader Jesse was a curious mix of disarming humor and overt seriousness. He would joke and jump around, shouting quotes from Rambo and countless Schwarzenegger movies. His laugh, deep from the belly, echoed down the halls of the barracks and in between the plaster and brick homes of very bewildered Iraqis. Just as quick, though, he'd delve into moments of austere reflection on the tide of war that swept over us. While training to deploy, he hunched over to Josh and me and let us in on a secret ritual that he did during his first deployment with the scouts. Right before the ramp dropped, he would shout, "Live Free!" to which we would reply, "Die Well!" Even though we were about to dismount to shoot blanks and throw fake grenades at people pretending to be insurgents, he said it exactly like he would in combat.

When I was younger, I took the time on Memorial Day to think about men I never met. The Marines that didn't come back with my uncle from Vietnam, and the infantrymen who gave their all with my grandfather in Korea. I thought about a distant relative, killed in battle at Gettysburg. Now that I'm on the other side of the civilian coin, I'm not sure what to think or do on this day. Like I've described before, every day is Memorial Day when you spend months and years with someone, learning their favorite movies and parent's names and their least favorite Spice Girl, only to see their lives end much too soon. The moment you leave a memorial service for someone killed in action, the feelings that come out on Memorial Day are amplified and refracted across the spectrum of emotion. You get a bit each day, forever.

Jesse and Chevy will never be with us again, but their spirits carry on. I can't even look at my backpack without sparking a memory of Jesse. Chevy's name is etched across the bracelet of my wrist, never to be removed. Reminders of their sacrifice are not limited to the attachment of physical objects, but to the future itself. They died well so we could live free. Keep that in mind today, for tomorrow the flags will come down, the barbecues will simmer and the memories of the fallen will quietly fade away.

Please post a story of someone you knew that fell in battle HERE. Doesn't matter who, doesn't matter what war.

Comments

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