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In Memory of the Fallen

Carl's Blog entry after 1st Sgt John Blair was killed in combat.

July 4, 2009

I hesitate to write this, because I do not whish to seam a braggart. I am simply one among many who have come before and will soon follow. So let me first emphasize that there is nothing to brag about, but there is plenty to be proud of. And it is that same deep feeling of pride and honor that I hope you will feel after reading this.

An American soldier has died. An American warrior sacrificed his life. It is not really important who he is, for he is yet another of the fallen.

But he is not just a number. As Americans we embrace individuality to the core, and as an American soldier his life, actions, and beliefs are unique and important. To those who knew him, they will be forever engrained with their memories of him – good, bad, and the ugly. They will learn, derive strength from, and build upon those memories.

This warrior will be carried home, draped in the flag that adorned his right shoulder. He turned a number the instant he was killed, but in his journey home he will come to represent more than his individualism. He and his family will now stand among those who given a life, the few who will know what sacrifice truly is.

And it is to this most important point fact I write. Some will argue “The American soldier stands for freedom,” or “what war can waste.” They will twist his sacrifice to meet their needs, and to some extent it is their right to gain inspiration from it, for as soldiers we strive to set the standard and inspire the future.

But hear me now, there is a line. You do not have to believe these warriors beliefs, or sacrifice as he did. But there is a line. A line of respect. And if you have not sacrificed for this country, for that man on the line to your left and right, if you have not bled or sweated for this country, then you damn well better respect him.

Stand when they pass, when their flag passes or raises and remember you just happen to live under it. Silence your voice, quiet your thoughts, and take off your hat. Respect what they have given and you have not. For only those out there who have sacrificed will have the right to decide that line of respect that they give, but I doubt many will give less than their all.

I march now in time, solemn and resolute with my brothers, escorting the soldier in front of me on his final journey home. And though I did not know the man well, he was a warrior through and through. Though I did not know him well, my brothers around me do; left and right they stare forward with the pain and knowledge of what we have lost. As we march by hands raise slowly in salute, Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, Afghan Police, civilians, every one, every one on the base not to busy fighting the war. This is respect, this is honor, and this is something any warrior would be proud of.

So do not forget what we have done, what we will do, and what we are willing to do. We may not be right, we may not be wrong, but until you join us in sacrificing for this country in one way or another, do not forget respect. For I would hate to wake up to that dangerous world as so many do; as a civilian knowing my Army doesn’t respect me.

His name is not important unless you knew him personally, so simply call him an American Warrior.

In memory of the fallen…