As a combat veteran and infantryman, Memorial Day is a bittersweet day for me. The more than two centuries of sacrifice of our armed forces leaves me feeling a strong sense of duty to carry on the honored tradition of service.
I commanded an infantry company in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, and not everyone came home alive; many came home scarred physically, and perhaps even more tragically, mentally. In quiet moments I am assaulted by doubts: was there something more I could have done? Was it worth it?
To the first question, I have no answer. My only defense is that I did the best I could and fell short. War is relentless, unforgiving and unjust, and beyond any one man’s control. To this day it pains my heart remembering the deep sorrow of the widows and their families. I am not sure sorrow that deep ever fully heals.
The second question I have gets answered every day. I live a quiet life, surrounded by friends and family and a nation of good people, who, for all of their faults and disagreements, still believe good overcomes evil and that freedom is not just a buzz word, but a vital part of our society. Watching the presidential debates make me even more proud to have served. All of the candidates have a viewpoint worthy of consideration.
People are passionate and outspoken while they stand up for what they believe in, and clamor for change—and that very process is working. Few other countries in this world could endure such a contentious process without taking up arms. The people will choose a new president and Commander in Chief who will lead the nation as best they can. No matter their political affiliation, they will rest assured that future generations will remain free to agree or disagree. Their freedom will be guarded by men and women willing to give everything as they carry the tradition of service forward for the future.