Fuel for Thought
What Right Have I ?
Tonight I attended the viewing for a recently passed friend of my daughter; Sergeant Titus Reynolds. Iâ€™ve never quite seen anything like it. As we turned down the street to the church, hundreds of flags lined the streets. It looked like a parade was going to pass, and indeed, one was. As we reached the church, there was row after row of cars filling the lot. A line stretched out the door, past where an honor guard, bearing flags, stood at attention. As we entered, we realized the line snaked around the inside of the large sanctuary, while small groups of his classmates stood around reflecting on the life of their friend. Many greeted my daughter. We signed the register and got in line to pay our respects. It was there I saw a sight I will never forget; a young wife, with young childâ€¦ standing by the flag draped coffin of her husband. His parents stood by her side, in tears as people filed slowly by and stopped to hug them, and reminisced of a life taken too soon by a road side bomb in Afghanistan. I watched as young men in dog tags, evidently his friends, talked his wife. I watched as old men in uniform, veterans of past wars, walked slowly up to the coffin, and saluted a fallen brother, separated only by years.
Two young soldiers stood at attention, one at each end of the coffin. I watched the changing of the guard, as every 30 minutes or so, 2 soldiers in dress uniform, walked up to the coffin, saluting the soldiers there, and they changed places, watching over their friend. I thought how young they looked; these men who put their lives on the line, to protect what we hold dearâ€¦ to protect their country, and indeed freedom around the world. At this moment, politics do not matter. It does not matter if we believe we should be there, whether we are Republicans, or Democratsâ€¦ in this room, there are only Americans.
As I left, I stepped up to some soldiers who were standing at the side of the room, shook their hands, and thanked them for their service. Each one returned my handshake with a firm grip, and eyes too old for their young faces I realized each one had seen things I would never seeâ€¦ things a young â€˜kidâ€™ should never have to see. I will never forget one young manâ€¦ even though I donâ€™t know his name. As I shook his hand, and thanked him for his serviceâ€¦ he looked me in the eye, and said â€œItâ€™s my Honor Sirâ€. As I looked at him, I saw fresh purple scars on his face, and realized his sacrifice. It shook me. I walked away thinking, â€˜What right did I have for this young man to call ME Sir?â€. None. I complain about traffic, about weather, because the girl at the drive thru got my sandwich wrong againâ€¦ while this â€˜kidâ€™â€¦ this Manâ€¦ too old for his years, puts his life on the line every day.
May we never forget their sacrifice.
Dale is a van owner operator with FedEx Custom Critical, and can be reached at email@example.com.