The ten year anniversary of September 11, 2001 is approaching. This was a day that changed our lives forever and we need to reflect and give thanks for the men and women who make it possible to live in the land of the free.
I recently read an article that made me more aware of the many sacrifices being offered so that I may enjoy the freedoms I have. Unfortunately, this is becoming an all-too common story about a young man, named Charles, who was serving in Iraq. Anticipating the birth of his first child, he decided to start writing a journal to his young son in case he didn’t make it back from the war.
On paper, he revealed himself in a way he rarely did in person. He thought hard about what to say to a son who would have no memory of him if he didn’t return. Charles knew the perils of war. He would write often about the loss of fellow soldiers. He made sacrifices for his men. He even missed his son’s birth because he refused to take a leave until all his unit had gone home first. He would eventually volunteer for the mission in which he would be killed in a road side bombing.
Even though his son would never hear his voice, he would know the wisdom of his words. He wrote, “Never be ashamed to cry. No man is too good to get on his knee and humble himself to God. Follow your heart and look for the strength of a woman.”
He wrote about faith and failure, heartache and hope. He said even rainy days have their pleasures as every now and then; you get lucky and catch a rainbow. He left this invaluable journal for his son to have. He was not only a writer but an artist as well. He drew pictures of himself with angel wings.
This reminded me of a special moment I shared with my son, Christian. It was ten years ago. Soon after I had returned home after my accident, Christian, then 3, and Shondell were trying to help me learn how to balance. Shondell would sit in front of me on the bed, lifting me up in a sitting position, and my son would then get behind me so I wouldn’t fall backwards. Once sitting, he would lift my arms so as to help me balance. One day he said “Look dad, you’re flying.” Hence my motto and legacy became – and is now: “Who needs legs when you have wings?”
Charles did get to come home and see his son when he was 5 months old. His son will be comforted by his father’s words in the 200 page journal left for him. He wrote he has no regrets. He loved serving his country. He died one month before his tour of duty would have ended.
He also said this is the letter every soldier should write. “Life will move on through our children. They are an extension of us and hopefully everything we stand for. I would like to see him grow up to be a man, but only God knows what the future holds.”
America weeps because so many of her children are no more. May our hearts be healed and may we never forget those who have been lost.