America’s military men and women are frequently questioned as to their reasons for joining the military. There are many that come to mind. For some it’s an “out”, a way to get away from a bad home, bad part of town, a way to make a new start, a path to education . . . but if you dig deeper, peel back the layers of the onion that is the soldier, airman, seaman, marine that stands before you, I believe the answer is much simpler . . . love.
An absolute love of freedom . . . that ability to be whoever, whatever you wish to be. That sure knowledge that we are not products of our environment . . . but rather products of our heart.
The love of family . . . and the knowledge that the thin red line is all that stands between their continued wellbeing and the threats of an often violent and vicious world.
The love of another . . . knowing that by standing between that person and evil – they honor their vows, their commitment and the lives of both defender and defended.
The love of a child . . . both family, friends and those children surrounded by violence and death. Lives of service men and women exchanged for a chance, a prayer, a hope that those children may be granted a better life, a better future.
The love of country . . . one that has been truly blessed and severely tested throughout every generation since the first signatures were placed on the Declaration of Independence.
No family, from those earliest generations to todays is untouched by the sacrifices made during wars. Some have lost loved ones, many are dealing with the aftermath of multiple deployments and there are those just struggling to adapt to the new reality of bodies ravaged by combat. Some are a step or two removed – yet still the magnitude of these sacrifices make itself known to all but the most hard hearted and cynical of us.
In memory of this love . . . in memory of friends and family lost . . . in memory of those who will wear their youth for all eternity . . . and “to absent comrades” . . .
Thank you . . .
Perhaps a parting thought . . . and an clear example of the depth of love between comrades in arms . . . I give you Army Captain William Swenson . . .