To honor and remember those who have given so much on this Memorial Day I wanted to share something meaningful – something that would evidence the respect and reverence I have for those who serve. Yet, the more I searched, the more I realized that what I post today on my blog has to come from me to truly evidence the level of respect and reverence that I seek to convey.
A Soliloquy for the Soldiers
Written by Carol Cwiak on Memorial Day 2011
I have never known anything but freedom. I have always lived in a country where my movement and speech were free.
Yet, I have known of the price – the sacrifice and the heartbreak of others who stand so committed to liberty that they willing go into harm’s way or stand in support of their loved ones that go off to places from which they may never return.
I will never go into battle in a faraway country. I will never know what it is to put my very existence on the line for the precept of freedom.
I can only imagine the fear and horror those who do serve experience. I can only imagine how important the notion of getting back to everyday life – watching television with the family, shooting hoops, hugging a loved one – is to these soldiers’ well-being as they endure the atrocities of battle day-in and day-out. I can only imagine the impact armed combat has on one’s soul.
But really, I will never know…I will never fully understand the cost of being a soldier. I will not live in the moment where I put a country’s ideals and the safety of a nation before my own. I will never be that brave or that committed.
I will never really understand how it feels to step foot again on U.S. soil having survived the battle to come home to a country that appreciates your sacrifice, but which – for the most part – cannot fathom what you have given. I will not ever live with the overwhelming feeling of guilt for surviving when my fellow soldiers have perished. I will not ever live without a limb or with enduring physical or mental disabilities because I survived such a battle. I will not ever live with the memories that cannot be written over, but which are rarely spoken of…the memories of what it was to really be a soldier.
But I know what it is to be the mother of a soldier. I understand the pride and the fear of that. I understand the angst of not knowing if you will ever see your child alive again. I understand the relief of having your child survive and the sadness in recognizing that there is no one who serves without a price…no veterans come home without scars.
I know what it is to feel for other families…to feel for other mothers like me. I understand what they give when they send their child off to do what others cannot or will not do. I know that there is a complicated mix of feelings that goes with having your child be a soldier – pride, fear, hope, resignation, sadness, guilt.
To the soldiers I say, I want you to know that you are better men and women than I will ever be. I know that most people are like me – most people will never experience what you have. Most people can only imagine the price you and your loved ones have paid – some of you have never fully returned home be it in body or soul.
I want you to know that most people will do that which they know to do to honor you – applaud your commitment to country as you walk through airports, hang a flag proudly in front of their home, or shake your hand and thank you for your service.
I want you to know that I honor you in my heart every day. Every time I see an American flag I remember how many soldiers’ caskets it has adorned. Every time I see a person in uniform I get choked up because I know both the level of commitment and the cost that comes with that uniform. Every time I hear the national anthem I am reminded of the enduring cost of freedom.
I want you to know that every time I learn of a soldier’s death I am sickened by the loss. I understand that every soldier has a rich story and a family and the impact of his or her service ripples across that story and that family.
I want you to know that while I will never really know your reality – I get it. I understand that you have lived with things that no one should have to live with, that you have seen things that you cannot forget, and that you have had to do things that so few are willing to do and many would not understand. I get it.
I want you to know that you are my heroes. You are the ones that I admire and champion. You are the ones who deserve my attention, my praise, my respect and my reverence.
I have never known anything but freedom. Thank you to all the soldiers who have, and continue to, fight to protect my freedom…I honor you.
Day six hundred and ninety-three of the new forty – obla di obla da