A Tribute to American Warriors.
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This tribute honors the American Warriors who fought, and are still fighting, to protect our freedoms and restore freedom to the Iraqi people throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many choose to speak of how America fought the war; weapons, tactics, units, war plans etc. I choose to discuss the American Warriors who fought the war and how they reflect the best of America.
Since the buildup of American forces in Iraq I have collected stories, quotes and pictures which reflect the character of American Warriors, items that have touched my heart or humored me in some way.
"There's no question we've sent the finest of our citizens into harm's way. They perform with great skill and great bravery. We thank them, we thank their loved ones. We appreciate their sacrifice."
At the White House, March 20, 2003
U.S. President George W. Bush
The Warrior Spirit
I’m Not A Hero
22 February 2003
I'm not a hero. That is to say, I don't think of myself that way. I don't seek out danger. I'm not the type of guy who is always looking for the next adrenaline rush, or the latest thrill sport. I generally avoid dangerous activities. I'm not a coward, either.
I'm not fearless. I realize, every day that I am here, that my life is in danger. There is no way to avoid this conclusion. I'm told to wear body armor and a helmet. I carry a weapon. We build fortifications. I lug a pack full of chemical protection gear everywhere I go. I've received so many shots, I feel like a pincushion. Sometimes, when I have a moment or two to think about it, I feel a little bit scared. Frankly, only an idiot would not be afraid under these circumstances. But I do have courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. To the contrary, courage involves recognizing danger, but acting on the realization that danger must be confronted -- or it will find you when you are least prepared. I didn't come here looking for a thrill.
I'm here because there is a hole in the ground in New York, where a couple of the world's tallest buildings used to be.
I'm here because I knew some of those people in the Pentagon.
I'm here because my seven-year-old nephew has nightmares about terrorists.
I'm here because whether Saddam is responsible or not for those terrorist attacks, he has the will and is developing the means to do much, much worse.
I'm here because if History teaches us anything, it is that evil men cannot be deterred by sanctions, containment strategies, diplomacy, resolutions, or weapons inspections.
I'm here because I don't believe in appeasement.
I'm here because someone has to be.I'm here because I was called.
I'm here because I have a job to do.
From an Army officer, (alias) “Lieutenant Smash” (author unknown), in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations, while preparing for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
March 08, 2003, while en route to support
Operation Iraqi Freedom
The Warrior Spirit
No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy
1st Marine Division (REIN) March 2003
Commanding General's Message to All Hands For decades, Saddam Hussein has tortured, imprisoned, raped and murdered the Iraqi people; invaded neighboring countries without provocation; and threatened the world with weapons of mass destruction. The time has come to end his reign of terror. On your young shoulders rest the hopes of mankind. When I give you the word, together we will cross the Line of Departure, close with those forces that choose to fight, and destroy them. Our fight is not with the Iraqi people, nor is it with members of the Iraqi army who choose to surrender. While we will move swiftly and aggressively against those who resist, we will treat all others with decency,demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people who have endured a lifetime under Saddam's oppression. Chemical attack, treachery, and use of the innocent as human shields can be expected, as can other unethical tactics. Take it all in stride. Be the hunter, not the hunted: never allow your unit to be caught with its guard down. Use good judgement and act in best interests of our Nation. You are part of the world's most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon. Share your courage with each other as we enter the uncertain terrain north of the Line of Departure. Keep faith in your comrades on your left and right and Marine Air overhead. Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit. For the mission's sake, our country's sake, and the sake of the men who carried the Division's colors in past battles - who fought for life and never lost their nerve - carry out your mission and keep your honor clean. Demonstrate to the world there is "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy" than a U.S. Marine.J. N. MattisMajor General, U.S. MarinesCommanding
The Warrior Spirit
“Soon, our nation will call upon you, the men and women of our Navy, to meet the next challenge in the global war on terrorism.
When you raised your right hand, took the oath, and donned the Sailor’s uniform, you chose to make a difference in the service of this nation – and you are. Rest assured, your service is unquestioned; you have the support of the citizens of the United States of America and your families. They care, and they believe in you. Make them proud. I couldn’t be more proud to serve with you.
You are part of the greatest joint and combined military force ever assembled. If our Commander-in-Chief gives the signal, fight and win!”
Admiral Vern Clark
Chief of Naval Operations,
Given just prior to the beginning of
Operation Iraqi Freedom, March 2003
“You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, and wipe it clean of life - but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman Legions did - buy putting your soldiers in the mud.”
T.R. Fehrenbach, from his book,
“This Kind of War”
American Soldiers in Iraq, April 2003
US M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank,
Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom
“No nation can long endure that does not foster a military spirit among its young men.”
Email from the Iraqi front. from a U.S. Army Colonel in the Third Infantry Division. He wrote this email as a result of being deeply angered over much of the reporting he is seeing in the American media:
"The Third (3ID) is making history here. In the past 48 hours, we have destroyed two (Iraqi) divisions and six other divisions decided not to fight or have formally capitulated. Of course, this is never reported in the news. I do daily air recon in a Blackhawk escorted by Apaches and we have probably killed close to 10,000 (Iraqi soldiers). We are continuously sniped at and receive periodic mortar fire. Bottom line, they shoot - they die. Every American soldier (here) is getting a chance to engage and kill the enemy. Iraq has these maniacs, death squad guys called Saddam Feddyen, DGS forces, IIS, and Ba'ath party forces that we spend most of our day killing. They continuously make suicidal charges at our tanks, Brads (fighting vehicles), and checkpoints. We are happy to send them to hell. You would not believe the carnage. Imagine body parts about knee deep, with hundreds of (Iraqi) vehicles burning, occupants inside. We fill up trucks with body parts daily. The plan is going exactly as scripted. The news is full of shit. We have almost total control. Don't know how much longer the division can keep up this pace, but we are prepared to do it."
God, In My Prayers
Preserve My Life
From Fear of The
A Marine’s tattoo,
picture from the
Iraqi desert :
“The Marne Division [3rd Infantry Division] led offensive operations into Iraq. As a vanguard for the attack and the main effort, 3rd ID moved 750 kilometers in 21 days, 500 in the first three days. This was the farthest offensive thrust accomplished in the shortest time period in history. The division was in contact with the enemy for all 21 days.”
Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount III, Commanding General,
3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized)
“Do not hit at all if it can be avoided, but never hit softly.” Theodore Roosevelt
Historian Stephen Ambrose said of the American soldier: "When soldiers from any other army, even our allies, entered a town, the people hid in the cellars. When Americans came in, even into German towns, it meant smiles, chocolate bars and C-rations." Ours has always been an army like no other, because our soldiers reflect a society unlike any other. They are pitiless when confronted by armed enemy fighters and yet full of compassion for civilians and even defeated enemies. American soldiers immediately began saving Iraqi lives at the conclusion of any fight. Medics later said that the Iraqi wounded they treated were astounded by our compassion. They expected they would be left to suffer or die. I witnessed Iraqi paramilitary troops using women and children as human shields, turning grade schools into fortresses, and defiling their own holy sites. Time and again, I saw Americans taking unnecessary risks to clear buildings without firing or using grenades, because it might injure civilians. I stood in awe as 19-year-olds refused to return enemy fire because it was coming from a mosque. It was American soldiers who handed over food to hungry Iraqis, who gave their own medical supplies to Iraqi doctors, and who brought water to the thirsty. It was American soldiers who went door-to-door in a slum because a girl was rumored to have been injured in the fighting; when they found her, they called in a helicopter to take her to an Army hospital. It was American soldiers who wept when a three-year-old was carried out of the rubble where she had been killed by Iraqi mortar fire. It was American soldiers who cleaned up houses they had been fighting over and later occupied-they wanted the places to look at least somewhat tidy when the residents returned. It was these same soldiers who stormed to Baghdad in only a couple of weeks, accepted the surrender of three Iraqi Army divisions, massacred any Republican Guard unit that stood and fought, and disposed of a dictator and a regime with ruthless efficiency. There is no other army-and there are no other soldiers-in the world capable of such merciless fighting and possessed of such compassion for their fellow man. No society except America could have produced them.”
By Mr. Lacey, a Time magazine correspondent, was embedded with the 101st Airborne Division.
“Here's the really special part -- while our troops are devastatingly lethal, with the same heart, we watched as they were just as likely to share their water with thirsty people, or pass out portions of their own rations to a starving man, hug a frightened child. No subjugation, no occupation, no brutality, only joy at seeing an oppressed peoples' reaction to their first taste of freedom. The world is witnessing first hand, live on television, the hearts of American warriors -- and the spirit and pride only displayed by magnificent young men and women who are volunteers in the fight for the cause of freedom. It's all about heart. I'm proud just to be associated with them.”
by Colonel. A.J. Stewart, 71st Flying Training Wing commander
"Urge all of your men to pray, not alone in church, but everywhere. Pray when driving. Pray when fighting. Pray alone. Pray with others. Pray by night and pray by day. Pray for the cessation of immoderate rains, for good weather for Battle. Pray for the defeat of our wicked enemy whose banner is injustice and whose good is oppression. Pray for victory. Pray for our Army, and Pray for Peace. We must march together, all out for God.
George S. Patton Jr.
“… stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
Do everything in love.”
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
‘Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.”
Prayer of St. Francis
March 31, 2003. Soldier risks life to rescue civilian caught in the crossfire
“We’ve got to get her off that bridge”
The elderly woman got stuck in a haze of smoke and bullets as she tried to cross a bridge south of Baghdad, she had a bullet wound to her lower torso. Capt. Chris Carter (a Company Commander with 3/7 Cav, 3ID) did not hesitate. He ordered his Bradley armored vehicle onto the bridge while he and two men followed on foot. Taking cover from Iraqi bullets behind the bridge's iron beams, Carter tossed a smoke grenade for cover and dashed toward the crying woman. Then the 31-year-old company commander pointed his M-16 rifle and provided cover for his men to carry the wounded woman to the safety of an ambulance.
By Jeordan Legon, CNN correspondent
While out on what he called "battlefield circulation," Col. Hodges, Commander, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, surveying suspected enemy positions with one of his battalion commanders when a soldier yelled "Incoming" to alert everyone that mortar shells were headed our way. A few soldiers moved closer to a wall, but Hodges and Hughes never budged and only briefly glanced up when the rounds hit a few hundred yards away. As Hodges completed his review and prepared to leave, another young soldier asked him when they would get to kill whoever was firing the mortar. Hodges smiled and said, "Don't be in a hurry to kill him. They might replace that guy with someone who can shoot."
”Wish You Were Here”
For all the free people that still protest. You're welcome. We protect you and you are protected by the best. Your voice is strong and loud, but who will fight for you?
No one standing in your crowd. We are your fathers, brothers, and sons, wearing the boots and carrying guns. We are the ones that leave all we own,
to make sure your future is carved in stone. We are the ones who fight and die, We might not be able to save the world, Well, at least we try. We walked the paths to where we are at
and we want no choice other than that. so when you rally your group to complain, take a look in the back of your brain. In order for that flag you love to fly wars must be fought and young men must die. We came here to fight for the ones we hold dear. If that's not respected, we would rather stay here. So please stop yelling, put down your signs, and pray for those behind enemy lines. When the conflict is over and all is well, be thankful that we chose to go through hell. By Corporal Joshua Miles and all the Marines
from 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines, Kuwait, March 09, 2003
By Jeordan Legon, CNN Correspondent.Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Antonio Gutierrez, age 22, was orphaned at the age of 7 and grew up homeless in the streets of Guatemala City. At age 14 while yearning for a better life, the strong-willed youth left Guatemala, on a 2,000 mile journey, hopping trains and hitchhiking through Mexico until he reached the United States. He was later granted legal resident status and went to high school and college in California before joining the Marines in March 2002. Wanting to be an Architect, he put off college to serve his adopted country. With only a year in the service, LCPL Gutierrez was Killed In Action March 21, 2003 in a firefight near the Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr. He was one of the first U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, even though he was not yet a citizen of the United States. He enjoyed writing poetry and in 2000 he wrote a poem titled, "Letter to God," which was read at his funeral. "Thank you for permitting me to live another year, thank you for what I have, for the type of person I am, for my dreams that don't die, May the firearms be silent and the teachings of love flourish.”
Jackie Baker, the LCPL Gutierrez foster parent’s adult daughter, said that Gutierrez "wanted to give the United States what the United States gave to him. He came with nothing. This country gave him everything."
“My spotter positively identified a target at 1,400 meters carrying an RPG [Rocket Propelled Grenade] on a water tower. I engaged the target. The top half of the torso fell forward out of the tower and the lower portion remained in the tower.”
A Sniper with the 325th PIR / 82nd Airborne Division
(from Operation Iraqi Freedom, PEO Soldier Lessons Learned, LTC Jim Smith, 15 May 2003)
Marine makes heartbreaking decision.
Major deploys to Middle East while his 6-month-old baby gets a new heartBy Jeordan Legon, CNN Correspondent Marine Major Hal Sellers, age 37, Executive Officer, with the Marine's 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion deployed with his unit while his newborn son was in need of a life-saving heart transplant. He faced a seemingly impossible decision. Take a desk job with the Marines in Twentynine Palms so he could be with his ailing baby or be deployed to the Middle East with his unit. Sellers, a 13-year veteran of the Marines who is his unit's second in command, chose to serve overseas. “It was not an easy decision to make, but I felt it was the right decision to make," said the 37-year-old Sellers during a recent television interview from Kuwait. "I joined the Marine Corps voluntarily and not just for those times when it's easy." MAJ Seller’s son, Dillon, who was born with a heart that was unable to pump blood, got a transplanted organ on March 12. Doctors say he's recovering well. So well, the infant was sent home in the arms of mom, Betsy, on April 17, 2003.
Before I end this I want to point out one other quality of the American soldier: his sense of justice. After a grueling fight, a company of infantrymen was resting and opening their first mail delivery of the war. One of the young soldiers had received a care package and was sharing the home-baked cookies with his friends. A photographer with a heavy French accent asked if he could have one. The soldier looked him over and said there would be no cookies for Frenchmen. The photographer then protested that he was half Italian. Without missing a beat, the soldier broke a cookie in half and gave it to him. It was a perfect moment and a perfect reflection of the American soldier. By Mr. Lacey, a Time magazine correspondent, was embedded with the 101st Airborne Division.
controlling the crowd
and his soldiers
Bravery inspires men, but brains and quick thinking win wars. In one particularly tense moment a company of U.S. soldiers was preparing to guard the Mosque of Ali-one of the most sacred Muslim sites-when agitators in what had been a friendly crowd started shouting that they were going to storm the mosque. In an instant, the Iraqis began to chant and a riot seemed imminent. A couple of nervous soldiers slid their weapons into fire mode, and I thought we were only moments away from a slaughter. These soldiers had just fought an all-night battle. They were exhausted, tense, and prepared to crush any riot with violence of their own. But they were also professionals, and so, when their battalion commander, LTC Chris Hughes, ordered them to take a knee, point their weapons to the ground, and start smiling, that is exactly what they did. Calm returned. By placing his men in the most non-threatening posture possible, Hughes had sapped the crowd of its aggression. Quick thinking and iron discipline had reversed an ugly situation and averted disaster. Since then, I have often wondered how we created an army of men who could fight with ruthless savagery all night and then respond so easily to an order to "smile" while under impending threat.
By Mr. Lacey, a Time magazine correspondent, was embedded with the 101st Airborne Division.
From the New York Post.Just when you think you've heard it all.May 6, 2003 -- John Belushi would have loved it. Restaurant workers at the United Nations cafeteria staged an impromptu strike last Friday in a dispute over a new contractor's refusal to honor their vacation pay. That left delegates and others - including Secretary-General Kofi Annan and members of the Security Council - unable to find anyone to serve their meals or clean their tables. OK. Things like that happen. But guess what happened next. The high-end U.N. crowd went wild, grabbing everything that wasn't bolted down, including $10,000 worth of food - including a raid on the delegate lounge bar, which was stripped clean of liquor. Even the cafeteria silverware disappeared en masse. And this is the outfit that wants to administer the rebuilding of Iraq?
The Warrior Spirit
Above picture is of PVT2 Christopher Nauman, from TF3-15, 2BCT, 3ID, lying on a stretcher after being wounded during combat operations at Objective Curley, a key highway intersection on the outskirts of Baghdad, April 07, 2003. After US Forces arrived this objective they were completely surrounded by an enemy force of about 200-300 soldiers. During the 7 hour fire fight, PVT2 Nauman was wounded and while being prepared to be evacuated to an aid station on a stretcher he insisted on taking his shotgun with him as he evacuated. He shot an enemy soldier who popped up from the rubble while he was on the litter being carried to the aid station, perhaps saving not only his own life, but also the lives of his two litter bearers.
As reported by the wife of General B.B. Bell, Katie Bell, April 9, 2003, while visiting soldiers who had been wounded, :
A soldier, wounded in Operations Iraqi Freedom, from Alabama, spoke to General B.B. Bell, while lying in a hospital bed in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.
As reported by Katie Bell: This soldier had a bullet that entered his lower abdomen and traveled up and exited through his back. He was on oxygen but pulled the mask off and refused to put it back on. He wanted to tell General Bell that he had met him at Fort Knox when he was there for his initial training. He was 21 years old and had been married for one year. He was frantic to know about his buddies, where they were, how they were doing. He said he had such guilt about leaving them. He looked at me as if he were deciding whether he should say something or not. Then he somehow raised himself up on an elbow, took B. B.' s hand and said,
"Sir, when I got hit I want you to know that I took a couple of the sons of bitches down.”
She continued, “The soldier who had lost both legs said, in response to B. B. asking him what he could do for him, "Sir, I am fine. I have everything I need. I have nothing to complain about.” Well, that was it for me. I just cried. I left the room but the soldier asked me to come back. "M'am.don't cry for me. Let's pray for all who are carrying on." Even now I have to cry. I was wearing a HOOAH pin that Patty Shinseki gave me and I took it off and gave it to him. Today, for the first time ever, I was in the presence of real heroes, indescribable bravery and I can't tell you how honored I am to have touched them. I held their hands and told them all how proud we and the nation are and that I love them. At the end of the visit I was totally wrung out and just wanted to get home and go in my room and be by myself and thank God for these young men and women who are giving so much.”
The Warrior Spirit
At one point during an American attack against Iraqi military forces, a squadron commander's driver, Pfc. Randall Duke Newcomb, steered the Humvee with one hand and his knees while emptying two magazines of M-16 rounds and two 40mm grenades out the window.
The Warrior Spirit
“No one bitching. These fine troopers have been down the road and want follow on forces to be prepared. Not once was I asked when they would be going home. They had just come out of 7 days of continuous combat ops, gotten a good night's sleep, pulled some maintenance and are rearing to get on with the job. I did not observe any loss of focus or shirking by the troops. As one 1SG put it "Even the meatball's seem to get their act together when the bullets fly!" VICTORY!!!”
SFC Cooper, V Corps Master Gunner
The Enduring Human Elements of Combat
Email excerpts from a First Sergeant, 24th MEU, from his "Lessons Learned"
"Get your Marines mail to them even if it means shooting your way to them with LAV's. They get mail and they will do anything for you." "Use the Satellite Phone - Forget the cost. Grab a few young Marines when you can and let them call home - that Marine could lead the entire Bn after he talks to his wife after a fire fight."' A can of dip, cigar, pack of smokes and a hand shake go along way. A cup of coffee helps - Make a cup if you can and give half to a young Marine at stand to and he will remember it. Buy a short waive radio and get the news. Write it down under a poncho at 0200. Get the baseball scores out to the Marines and you are a hero. Have all the e-mail addresses of your Marine's wives - Get to any HHQ and send a blanket e-mail to all of them. Promote your Marines on time if you can - We promoted a Marine in 81's to Merit SSgt in the field a few hours after a fire fight - Can't begin to put a price on that. Ensure your Marines write letters on anything they can get their hands on - MRE boxes work great. I put a ammo can on my vehicle for outgoing mail. Get the mail out. There is always a way. Pass if off to other units if you have to. Find a helo and give him your mail. Give him a can of dip to do it for you.
Army Private First Class Howard Johnson,
Killed In Action, Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom
“I want to tell you of an experience I had Thursday night flying home from Atlanta. The pilot came on the intercom and went through the usual announcements telling us that "we're just east of Montgomery cruising at 28,000 feet" and "you've picked a beautiful night for flying, just look at the gorgeous southern sunset out of the right side of the plane". He then, however, said this: "Please bear with me as I deviate from the script, but I want you all to know that simply by coincidence you have been granted both the privilege and honor of escorting the body of Army PFC Howard Johnson, Jr. home tonight. PFC Johnson was killed in Iraq defending the freedoms we all enjoy, and fighting to extend those freedoms to the people of Iraq. We are also accompanied by PFC Johnson's cousin, Marine Sergeant Major Talley, who has been chosen by the family to escort PFC Johnson home. Semper Fi!" The plane quickly became very quiet, but soon erupted in thunderous applause that lasted for several minutes. It was quite moving, to say the least. As I sat there thinking about what the pilot had said, and visualizing PFC Johnson's dead body riding below me in the belly of that plane, I noticed a couple of things. Two rows in front of me sat a father holding his daughter, an infant, and they were practicing "ma-ma" and in the row behind me was another young boy, probably 2 or so, learning to count to 10. Now obviously both are too young to realize we're at war, or that one of our dead was with us, but it made me think, and this is the point: These warriors, mostly young, all volunteers, everyday are prepared to give their lives for our future, for a safer, more secure future for people they don't even know, all based on the principle that fighting and dying for this country is worth it. You all know and agree with this, but not everyone does, so I would ask that if you meet anyone that's not "on board" with this philosophy, i.e. the protesters to which Bob refers, that you "correct the situation". By the way, the flight ended with all of us deplaning only to line the windows of the gate house to watch PFC Johnson's body, draped in the American flag, be rolled out of the plane and into a waiting hearse that was surrounded by his family members. Please pray that our soldiers' sight is acute, their aim is true, and that as many come home as God can spare.”Eric Dawson
A Warrior Honored
At a recent Soldiers Breakfast held at Redstone Arsenal, AL (May 2003), Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) Jack Tilley shared the following story. This story was captured by James Henderson, Chaplain to the Association of the U. S. Army Redstone Huntsville Chapter.
During the breakfast, SMA Jack Tilley described one of his recent visits to meet with some of our wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D. C.. He noted, "A Special Forces soldier had lost his right hand and suffered severe wounds to his face and the side of his body [during Operation Iraqi Freedom]". SMA Tilley asked, "How do you honor such a soldier, showing respect without offending? What can you say or do in such a situation that will encourage and uplift? How do you shake the right hand of a soldier who just lost his?" Finally he told the audience how he acted as though the man had a hand, taking his wrist as though it were his hand and speaking encouragement to him. But he said there was another man in that group of visitors who had even brought his wife with him to visit the wounded who knew exactly what to do. "This man reverently took this soldier's stump of a hand in both of his hands, bowed at the bedside and prayed for him. When he stood from praying he bent over and kissed the man on the head and told him he loved him. What a powerful expression of love for one our wounded heroes! And what a beautiful Christ-like example! What kind of man would kneel in such humility and submission to the Living God of the Bible?
It was George W. Bush, President of the United States and Commander in Chief of our Armed forces, a man who understands and follows his chain of command, a leader God has given us."
"In a president, character is everything. You can't buy courage and decency, you can't rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him.... He needs to have a vision of the future he wishes to create. But a vision is worth little if a president doesn't have the character -- the courage and heart -- to see it through." Peggy Noonan
President Bush IS our Commander and Chief, he IS a Warrior, and the troops are proud of him!
A reminder of sacrifices paid..... Glad to live in a state where our military is respected...
What follows is a message from Vicki Pierce (a member of my church here in Highlands Ranch) about her nephew James' funeral (he was serving our country in Iraq):
I'm back, it was certainly a quick trip, but I have to also say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There is a lot to be said for growing up in a small town in Texas.
The service itself was impressive with wonderful flowers and sprays, a portrait of James, his uniform and boots, his awards and ribbons, his boots. There was lots of military brass and an eloquent (though inappropriately longwinded) Baptist preacher. There were easily 1000 people at the service, filling the church sanctuary as well as the fellowship hall and spilling out into the parking lot.
However, the most incredible thing was what happened following the service on the way to the cemetery. We went to our cars and drove to the cemetery escorted by at least 10 police cars with lights flashing and some other emergency vehicles, with Texas Rangers handling traffic. Everyone on the road who was not in the procession, pulled over, got out of their cars, and stood silently and respectfully, some put their hands over their hearts, some had small flags. Shop keepers came outside with their customers and did the same thing. Construction workers stopped their work, got off their equipment and put their hands over their hearts, too. There was no noise whatsoever except a few birds and the quiet hum of cars going slowly up the road.
When we turned off the highway suddenly there were teenage boys along both sides of the street about every 20 feet or so, all holding large American flags on long flag poles, and again with their hands on their hearts. We thought at first it was the Boy Scouts or 4F club or something, but it continued .... for two and a half miles. Hundreds of young people, standing silently on the side of the road with flags. At one point we passed an elementary school, and all the children were outside, shoulder to shoulder holding flags ... kindergartners, handicapped, teachers, staff, everyone. Some held signs of love and support. Then came teenage girls and younger boys, all holding flags. Then adults. Then families. All standing silently on the side of the road. No one spoke, not even the very young children. The last few turns found people crowded together holding flags or with their hands on their hearts. Some were on horseback.
The military presence...at least two generals, a fist full of colonels, and representatives from every branch of the service, plus the color guard which attended James, and some who served with him ... was very impressive and respectful, but the love and pride from this community who had lost one of their own was the most amazing thing I've ever been privileged to witness.
I've attached some pictures,[see next slide] some are blurry (we were moving), but you can get a small idea of what this was like. Thanks so much for all the prayers and support.
A Soldier’s Prayer
“God bless my men, who now lie dead. I know not what You have in mind, but when You judge, please be kind … when they come before you, they will be poorly dressed, but will walk proudly, for they have done their best. Their boots will be muddy and their clothes all torn .. but these clothes they have so proudly worn. Their hearts will be still and cold inside, for they have fought their best and did so with pride. So please take care of them as they pass Your way .. the price of freedom they’ve already paid.”
Funeral service for CPT Seifert,
101st Airborne Division
Operation Iraqi Freedom,
message from Annie,
In this case, Annie speaks for the entire nation in saying “Thank You Veterans”