Memorial Day: A Remembrance of Brotherhood

Jonathan Espinoza, Associate Editor

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Not all brothers are born of familial blood.  The greatest men I have ever known were brothers born of necessity and circumstance.  Our bonds were molded in wartime and sealed with blood and anger and laughter and love.  And as Memorial Day is now upon us, I think about them more and more.  I see their faces, full of resolve.  I hear their laughter, carefree and sincere.  The greatest men I have ever known are no longer with us and it is something that is still hard to grasp.

As a child, I had a very vague idea of what Memorial Day truly meant.  Despite numerous family members serving in almost all branches of service, the enormity of the day was lost on me.  10 years ago this December is when the realities of war kicked in my front door and changed my life forever.

You never really get the chance to mourn while you are deployed.  Tears are shed, you get pissed as hell but you drive on.  You tamp down that sadness and sorrow and parcel it up nice and neat and stow it away in the deepest part of your mind and focus on the mission at hand.  But you do it for them, you do it because you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that those men, those who died for their country, are the greatest men you will ever know.

How do you honor the fallen?  Is it with words of gratitude?  Prayers to your god?  There is no right way.  For me, at least, I remember the enormity of their presence.  Memorial Day is about the fallen, those who have given their life, but also, for me in particular, it is about the men who taught me what a true hero is.  I honor my brothers by remembering them.  I honor them by trying to live a life of integrity and honesty.  I honor them because they are the greatest men I have ever known.

 

If you are able,
save them a place
inside of you
and save one backward glance
when you are leaving
for the places they can
no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say
you loved them,
though you may
or may not have always.
Take what they have left
and what they have taught you
with their dying
and keep it with your own.
And in that time
when men decide and feel safe
to call the war insane,
take one moment to embrace
those gentle heroes
you left behind.

– Major Michael Davis O’Donnell

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