« TLC Advice-a-Thon: Ramona's Tips on the Bottomless Pit of Whining | Main | Pushing Sixty in a Twinset »

May 28, 2007

A Soldier's Memorial Day Message

A Soldier's Memorial Day Message

By Guest Blogger Sgt Leah Charles

Ed Note from Rebecca the Bookseller: Leah is a 28-year-old woman from our neighborhood. She enlisted in the Army after 9/11. She is preparing to return to Iraq during her second tour of duty. She sent this message to her friends, and as soon as I read it, I asked her if we could share it here. These are her words, untouched. along with the photos she included. On behalf of the Book Tarts, I ask that you take the time to read it, and to honor her request, which is a very simple one. And please keep Leah and her Unit, the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, in your thoughts and prayers, along with all our other warriors - men and women at risk on behalf of this nation.

Well if you can stand some more of my ramblings, I wanted to use this opportunity to ask a favor of you this upcoming Memorial Day. I ask that at some point during the day, you truly think about the fallen soldiers of this nation. Whether it's while you're manning the grill, driving to a cookout, or enjoying a beer, anything really, I just ask that you remember the meaning of Memorial Day.

I attended a memorial service a few weeks ago for the 6 fallen soldiers from Fort Lewis. It has weighed heavily on my heart since. It brought up more emotions than I even knew were within me. I'm sure that my fellow soldiers can understand this, especially those from my first deployment. When in a combat zone, you don't have time to truly mourn. You may shed some tears through the pain, but you can't stop, you don't stop. You have a job to do and if you pause, if you slow down, if you miss a beat, you may end up with yet another fallen. Therefore you are required to push on, to keep moving forward, and there is no time to shed tears by looking back.

Where does that leave us?

I'll tell you where. It leaves us with a barrel full of emotions that have been bottled up inside for so long, that when something triggers a memory, a smell, an image, a sound, a feeling, those emotions start fighting within us to be set free.

Blog_bootsI sat there, in the Soldiers Field House. I stared at the stage, looking at the 6 rifles, muzzles down, the 6 helmets smartly setting on each butt-stock, the 6 dog tags, 6 pairs of boots, and the 6 photos of the fallen. The service was somber, this was the first one that I have attended in the states. The others I have been to have taken place in Iraq. For the most part they are the same. Joseph Galloway said it best, "There is pain and pride and pageantry when you say farewell to a fallen soldier, and rightly so."

The only difference in Iraq is that generally the memorial service does not last as long because it is dangerous to have a large group of soldiers gathered in one place. Other than that everything else is the same.

Amazing Grace was played on bagpipes by local firemen. By the time final roll call was taken, the knot in my throat felt like it was going to leap out. Tears had been streaming down my face the entire service, but this is the part when you truly realize, they won't be back. It was all I could to to keep myself from sobbing aloud.

During Final Role call, 1SG calls the names of those he leads. The other soldiers of the unit reply swiftly, one by one until the names of the fallen are called. They are called several times, each time with an addition, and each time with silence, until 1SG finally calls the the soldier's rank, first, middle, and last name. And still, no answer. It's one of those things that I can't find the words to describe, but it does something to you. The last roll call signifies that all unit members will be accounted for, and none will ever be forgotten.

I started to think about Byran. When he died, I so badly wanted to be at his memorial service. I was stuck out guarding the tower for 5 days, we ate and slept out there, and was devastated that I wouldn't be able to pay my respects to my friend and the other 3 that died with him.

I think about the night that I held a young man while he wept outside in the darkness. He was covered in blood. It wasn't his own. I had no words to comfort him. My thoughts began to run rampant, one after another memories began pulling themselves to the forefront of my mind. Some had been kept away for so long, that they didn't even seem like mine. J-Bo, am I crazy? Of anyone, during those times you understood me best. Am I nuts? Do you have these flashes? I remember after you guys got hit, we didn't' know anything. Who was hurt, what the hell was going on. I just knew you were with them. I knew I would feel better once I saw that you were okay. But although physically you were fine, as soon as I saw you I knew it wasn't okay, and I didn't feel better.

Blog_soldier_funeralShots were fired and taps was played. I watched the families walk up to the photos of their loved ones and whisper words of love to their pictures. I watched the mourners in uniform file out, pausing to stand at attention and salute each fallen soldier's memorial, one by one, and I continued to cry.

And as I sit here and continue to write, the tears start to stream down my cheeks again and I know it won't be the last time. My original intent was to share with you my thoughts about Memorial Day. I don't even know if I will send this anymore.

I wanted to ask all of you to remember. Don't make this Monday a day to criticize our government over how many this war has taken. This day isn't about that. It's a day to remember OUR FALLEN, not just from the middle east, but our Vietnam Vets and all the way back to the Revolutionary War. "National Moment of Remembrance" is at 3 p.m. please take some time to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in OUR NATION'S service. These men and women have given the ultimate sacrifice.

Regardless of what you think about the current situation that OUR military is in, please remember this...

Blog_casket08 "It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle." -
Norman Schwarzkopf

Well, if you actually read my ramblings from start to finish, you have my thanks. Sometimes, I go off on a tangent and forget what I was talking about in the first place. Have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day. Enjoy your cookout, and take some time to remember our fallen.

Love always, Leah


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Soldier's Memorial Day Message:


Dear Leah,

It is truly an honor to read the sad and moving words that you have so graciously and generously shared. I can only wish you safety and luck and promise to honor your request, and remember your lost friends and fellow soldiers. Please know that you, all of you, are in my prayers.


Thank you, Leah, for your powerful words and for your service.

I am going to print this out, make copies and hand it out at our family picnic today.

At at 3 pm, when silence descends over the party atmosphere, I hope you know we are honoring you and your fellow soldiers, as well as those who have gone before you.

Leah, you've done a great and elegant thing by remembering your friends here. We'll respect your wishes, dearheart.

Leah, thank you so much for agreeing to have your thoughts shared and reminding us of the original imporance of Memorial Day.

And I pray to God that this war ends soon and that you and your colleagues come home safely.


May God watch over you and your fellow soldiers, and here's a prayer that this ends soon and you all come home safely.

Thank you, Leah. And know that you and your fellow soldiers (past and present) are remembered always, with awe, gratitude, and respect.

Well Leah,
in so called rambling, you have uncovered some truth.

Please know that many people are silently praying for your sucess.

Thank you for this call to remembrance, Leah, and thank you for your service. You're so right. This holiday is not about the barbecue, and I will thinking all day about what you've said here.

Dear Leah,
I'll never forget this blog. My children just woke and saw me crying and I used it as an opportunity to talk about Memorial Day with them.

Stay safe and come home soon.

We'll be thinking about soldiers today.

Thank you Leah.

Thank you Rebecca for helping Leah share this message.

This war sometimes becomes just the source of debate and anger. We all benefit when we actually listen and remember what it really means.

Like Joe, I'll be taking this with me to a picnic today.

Thank you, Leah, and for all the soldiers like you. You will be in my prayers.

Thank you Leah. Not just for sharing your thoughts and emotions with us, but for being one of the many brave soldiers who serve in the military. May God be with you.

Leah, thank you and know that the soldiers are in my prayers every day.
To everyone else, please remember the soldiers everyday. You have no idea how much they appreciate 'care' pkgs from home. Call your local VFW or USO to see how you can help. Authors can donate books, the soldiers need an escape from reality on their down time. Simple things like junk food,oreos,sunscreen, high SPF lip balm, hypo allergenic moisturizer, powdered drink mixes, baby wipes, freezer ziploc bags (to keep sand out of their stuff). The free stuff when you buy cosmetics? Donate it! Our ladies on the front lines are still ladies.
And the posts can always use money to cover the cost of mailing the pkgs. Our local VFW is sending 800 pkgs this year. Everyone, please do what you can to help! Thanks

Dear Leah
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you and all the other men &women fighting for this country. We all need to stop and say thanks.
I wish you well and a safe return.God be with to you and all the other soldiers.

Dear Leah,
Like so many of the others, I sit here with tears in my eyes, thanking you for your tribute to those who fight and those who have fallen. My husband served during VietNam as did my brother-in-law. They lost comrades and friends, as did I. We remember them often. My brother-in-law is in DC thsi weekend with his old unit, a reunion they hold every year.
Godspeed to you and all soldiers no matter where. You are the fiber of this country, and we are unconditionally grateful for your service and sacrifice.
Thank you for the reminder of what this day is truly about.

Be safe and thanks.

Leah -

Thank you for the beautiful words and the incredible message.

No matter what, never forget that we all support you. Politics aside, strategy and surges and whatever else occurs, we support you.

You and your fellow service men and women are in my daily prayers.

What Kimmie said, times ten. Politics be damned, Leah and individuals like her are the ones doing what needs to be done. We may not agree with everything, but our soldiers need our support more than ever.

And just so we know, Leah's blog did not make me cry. It's bad allergy season down here. And the sun was in my eyes. And cigar smoke floated under my glasses, that's all....

Thank you, Leah. I add my prayers for the safe, speedy return home of all our servicemen and women.

My thoughts and prayers are always with our soldiers. I think of them every single day. I wish they could all come home, tomorrow.

I also worry about our police oficers who are fighting a different kind of losing battle. It's a scary world out there.

Sergeant, there are no words.

Get home safely. Please. We'll all be waiting.

I read every word. I feel every one of them. This morning after reading the blog, I wrote a long emotion filled response to it and then deleted it. It came out a rant about the news media, and the emotions of sitting waiting for the phone to ring. Yes, my son is serving in Baghdad. Yes, today brings home the fact that he is in harms way. But today I decided I would just like to write a small message to him if you dont mind.

Oh, my goodness. Thank you so much for sharing. I am forwarding this link to family and friends. What an incredible tribute. Thank you.

The comments to this entry are closed.

The Breast Cancer Site