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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day, the official start of summer, is upon us once more.  Pools are re-opened, barbeques are fired up and friends and family gather in backyards across the country to fellowship over burgers and beers.  Sure, this kick-off to a new season gives us all a reason to celebrate, but it also gives us the opportunity to stop and remember those who have given their lives for our freedom. 

We live in the greatest country in the world!  It isn't perfect here in the United States of America, but it's still better than anywhere else.  We enjoy freedoms here that allow us to choose our own paths and make our own decisions; freedoms that cannot be found anywhere else on this planet.  But these freedoms were not just given to us; they were earned by men and women willing to lay down their lives to protect them.

It's easy to become complacent in this country because we have enjoyed this way of living for so long that now we expect, rather than respect the abundance of choices that we have.  This becomes a problem when we start forgetting the price that was paid for us to live in this great country.

Many lives have been lost to protect our rights over the years, and the fight is never over.  We must continue to stand up for our country, for our freedom.  We must recognize and honor those who willingly volunteer to defend us.  And, we must never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our homeland.

So, this weekend, as you celebrate Memorial Day, I hope you wear the red, white and blue with pride and you remember what this holiday is really about.  Think about the Americans living on the other side of the planet, in the Afghanistan heat.  Remember them as you sip your cool, refreshing lemonade.  Think about the families who would give anything to share one more backyard barbeque with a loved one they lost to war.  Think about the men and women who have died so that you can celebrate this holiday in the safety of your own home, with the comfort of your friends and family around.

We owe it to our country to fight for the memory of those who gave all.  Let us never forget!



Semper Fi,
Dakota

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Struggle

So, I have to say this week was by far one of the hardest weeks of my life...

They say time heals all wounds, but for me, it seems that the longer I wait and the more time that has passed, the harder it gets.

Marines are supposed to be the toughest men on Earth, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm struggling.  This week was especially hard because Tuesday was the 8th of the month.  My guys were killed on the 8th of September, 2009.  I'll admit that this week was filled with lots of tears, bad days and bad thoughts.

It seems that I have not accepted that my team is dead, which sounds crazy.  I've verbally stated that they are dead, I've shared the details of that day in Ganjgal Valley countless times with many people, but in my heart it's as if the reality hasn't hit me, yet.  It just seems like a bad dream that I'll eventually wake up from.

To avoid thinking about it I try to keep myself busy; running from it as long as possible, but I will say I'm getting really tired.  I'm slowing down.  What isn't slowing down though is the demons, the reality that my brothers, my best friends are gone... GONE... Gone forever. 

But what do you do?  Sit at home and cry?  Lay in bed?  Not eat?  Feel sorry for yourself?  I don't know.  I don't pretend to know. All I do know to do is to keep breathing and keep taking one step at a time, and sometimes that takes all my effort.  Feeling the loss of five of the most important people in my life isn't enough, though.  I also have to deal with knowing that I am a failure, and I failed them.  But I keep thinking that if I can continue pushing myself, in their names and in their honor, I will earn their forgiveness for not being there and saving them.  Hopefully, they will, someday, at least understand the reason I let them down...

I accept the responsibility of being a failure.  I hold myself accountable everyday and let everyone know that a failure is what I am; not a hero, as so many people have called me.  I cringe when I hear that word.

Everyday, and especially on the days when I don't even want to get out of bed, I look down at my wrists and I see their names and I know I have no choice but to push on in their honor and for sacrificies they gave!!! 

RIP
 Lt Michael E. Johnson, GySgt Aaron Kenefick, GySgt Edwin Johnson,
PO3 "Doc" James Layton, SFC Kenneth Westbrook.
Never Forgotten

Semper Fi,
Dakota