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It Should Have Been Me

#militaryappreciationmonth #nationalguard army Uncategorized

May is designated as the Month of Military Appreciation. It is also the month that hosts Memorial Day. Appreciation for those who gave their all hits much closer to home, when someone we love returned from a deployment without all their troops returning. We all know it happens, but let's face it, that reality can seem distant until it touches the life of someone close to us.[caption id="attachment_978" align="alignleft" width="300"]Decal on a car makes a sobering statement. Decal on a car makes a sobering and true statement.[/caption]Many who return from deployment carry with them the dreaded "it should have been me" gorilla on their back. Some lost a comrad and was nearby when it happened. Others lost someone they knew and respected although they may not have been present during the fight. Neither is easy to bear. The first scenario was true of my nephew. I didn't find out until he had been home for quite awhile. I knew an IED had taken two of his fellow soldiers in the vehicle that drove in front of theirs. I didn't know it would have taken his life without the last minute change of plans that occurred. He was originally assigned to sit in the seat that was closest to the blast. He didn't initiate the change, he just followed orders.[caption id="attachment_982" align="alignleft" width="300"]Tombstone at Willamette National Cemetery. Tombstone at Willamette National Cemetery.[/caption] He doesn't talk about it much. In fact, I first heard about it when we went to visit the tombstones of the two that were lost. It was last summer after the funeral of my mother's second husband. He had been in the Navy, and thus was granted burial at Willamette National Cemetery. My nephew wanted to go visit the graves after the ceremony. I asked if I could come with him. He doesn't verbalize the impact, but it's there. Let's face it, how do you put those feelings/memories into words? Another friend of mine who is an airman wears a black bracelet in memory of those lost in a fight on one of his deployments. They went in the building before him. Their lives spared him. He lives with that vivid memory. He doesn't talk about it much either. The black bracelet says a lot without any words being uttered. We can't change what's happened, but we can choose to listen to what is uncomfortable to hear. We can express our appreciation for both those who returned and those who didn't. Thank you Sgt. Werner. You're one I especially appreciate this May. Thank you Spc. Best. I'm so grateful you still serve our country.

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