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revefsreleets
07-07-2008, 10:10 AM
http://www.ohio.com/editorial/commentary/24002364.html?page=all&c=y

When a Marine knocks at the door
By George Will
Washington Post Writers Group

Published on Monday, Jul 07, 2008
The curtains pull away. They come to the door. And they know. They always know.
Maj. Steve Beck, U.S. Marine Corps
WASHINGTON: Sometimes Beck would linger in his vehicle in front of an American home, like that of the parents of Lance Cpl. Kyle Burns in Laramie, Wyo. Beck knew that, as Jim Sheeler writes, every second he waited ''was one more tick of his wristwatch that, for the family inside the house, everything remained the same.''
Beck now Lt. Col. Beck was a CACO, a casualty assistance calls officer whose duty was to inform a spouse or parents that their Marine had been killed.
He is the scarlet thread like the stripes on Marines' dress-blue trousers, symbolizing shed blood that connects the heart-rending stories in Sheeler's Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives. The book, which proves that the phrase ''literary journalism'' is not an oxymoron, expands the meticulous and marvelously modulated reporting he did for the Rocky Mountain News, and for which he received a Pulitzer Prize. His subject is how America honors fallen warriors.
More precisely, it is about how the military honors them. The nation, as Marine Sgt. Damon Cecil says, ''has changed the channel.'' Still, Sheeler sees civilians getting glimpses of those who have sacrificed everything.
The glimpses come as the fallen are escorted home. When an airline passenger, noting an escort's uniform, asked if the sergeant was going to or coming from the war, he repeated words the military had told him to say: ''I'm escorting a fallen Marine home to his family from the situation in Iraq.''
The situation. Sheeler:
''When the plane landed in Nevada, the sergeant was allowed to disembark alone. Outside, a procession walked toward the cargo hold. The airline passengers pressed their faces against the windows.
''From their seats in the plane they saw a hearse and a Marine extending a white-gloved hand into a limousine. In the plane's cargo hold, Marines readied the flag-draped casket and placed it on the luggage conveyor belt.
''Inside the plane, the passengers couldn't hear the screams.''
The knock on the survivors' door is, Beck says, ''not a period at the end of their lives. It's a semicolon.'' Deployed military personnel often leave behind, or write in the war zone, ''just in case'' letters. Army Pfc. Jesse Givens of Fountain, Colo.: ''My angel, my wife, my love, my friend. If you're reading this, I won't be coming home. . . . Please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone.'' To his son Dakota: ''I will always be there in our park when you dream so we can still play together. . . . I'll be in the sun, shadows, dreams, and joys of your life.'' To his unborn son: ''You were conceived of love and I came to this terrible place for love.''
The manual for CACOs says, ''It is helpful if the NOK (next of kin) is seated prior to delivering the news . . . naturally and at a normal pace.'' Sometimes, however, things do not go by the book.
Doyla Lundstrom, a Lakota Sioux, was away from her house when she learned that men in uniform had been to her door. She called the father of her two sons each serving in Iraq; one as a Marine, one as a soldier and screamed into her cell phone, ''Which one was it?''
It was the Marine.
Sheeler says that troops in war zones often have e-mail and satellite telephones, so when someone is killed, communication from the area is stopped lest rumors reach loved ones before notification officers do. ''As soon as we receive the call,'' Beck says, ''we are racing the electron.''
When the Army CACOs came to the Arlington, Va., door of Sarah Walton, my assistant, she was not there. She rarely forgot the rule that a spouse of a soldier in a combat zone is supposed to inform the Army when he or she will be away from home. This time Sarah forgot, so it took the Army awhile to locate her at her in parents' home in Richmond.
Her husband, Lt. Col Jim Walton, West Point class of 1989, was killed in Afghanistan on June 21. This week he will be back in Arlington, among the remains of the more than 300,000 men and women who rest in the more than 600 acres where it is always Memorial Day.
This is written in homage to him, and to Sarah, full sharer of his sacrifices.

Will is a Washington Post columnist. He can be e-mailed at georgewill@washpost.com (georgewill@washpost.com).

fansince'76
07-07-2008, 10:17 AM
That's one job I definitely would NOT want - delivering the news to families that one of their loved ones died in combat.

HometownGal
07-07-2008, 10:20 AM
What a sad but beautiful story, revs - I have tears in my eyes after reading it.

My heart goes out to all of the families of these courageous Marines (as well as all of our men and women who were and are being killed in the name of love for their country) who were called home by the Lord. It was heartwarming reading that these casualty officers handle their very difficult positions with such dignity.

God Bless our fallen heroes. May they forever :tombstone

revefsreleets
07-07-2008, 10:40 AM
This particular passage really "got me".

''My angel, my wife, my love, my friend. If you're reading this, I won't be coming home. . . . Please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone.'' To his son Dakota: ''I will always be there in our park when you dream so we can still play together. . . . I'll be in the sun, shadows, dreams, and joys of your life.'' To his unborn son: ''You were conceived of love and I came to this terrible place for love.''

lamberts-lost-tooth
07-07-2008, 10:42 AM
I have a place in my heart reserved for a special feeling.

A feeling that surfaces during an exceptional singing of our National Athem....surfaced when I saw a Vietnam soldier leaning emotionally on the shoulder of his wife at "The Wall" in Washington D.C....surfaces when I see a young man in uniform at an airport.....and surfaced when I read this article.

Unlike so many people in this country...when I hear about or read about the death of an American Soldier...my heart doesnt fill itself with negative emotions about wasted lifes and political blame

My heart fills itself with grief over the loss of one of the few, special young Americans who put aside "self" and found something in this world worth fighting for but It fills itself full of pride that there is still those in this country with the mental and intestinal fortitude to insure freedom ....even for those who take it for granted.

Thank you for this article...it made me cry...but it was just that "special feeling" surfacing...and its always a good thing :usa::salute:

HometownGal
07-07-2008, 10:46 AM
This particular passage really "got me".

''My angel, my wife, my love, my friend. If you're reading this, I won't be coming home. . . . Please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone.'' To his son Dakota: ''I will always be there in our park when you dream so we can still play together. . . . I'll be in the sun, shadows, dreams, and joys of your life.'' To his unborn son: ''You were conceived of love and I came to this terrible place for love.''

That tore me up too, revs. At least this family can have some sort of meaningful closure knowing how much they were loved by their husband and Daddy.

Hammer Of The GODS
07-07-2008, 03:14 PM
As we all no doubt enjoyed our 3 day weekend celebrating the 4th, I wonder what other people think of on the holidays that mark the sacrifice made by so many who have served thier country.

As I watched the fireworks with my family I heard many ohs and ahs but I found myself lost in my own thoughts. Thoughts of the men and women who have given the one thing that can't be replaced, thier very lives. This country is built on the foundation of those very people.
I am very honored to have served with such people. I have survived my war and am a better person for it. But, for those who have given thier lives I am deeply indebted to thier sacrifice.

I feel that this counrty is getting away from true patriotism. True patriotism isn't necessarily being a soldier, but it DOES mean the supporting of those who are!

For those of you who are moved by this post; Might I suggest you do something for the troops that will definately send them a message that we care, and will give you a warm feeling all over. Go to this website............

http://www.anysoldier.com/index.cfm

Forget your politics and get involved............ it will make you feel good about being an American!

To my fellow Marines.......... SEMPER FI !

GBMelBlount
07-07-2008, 07:32 PM
Hammer Of The GODS
I feel that this counrty is getting away from true patriotism. True patriotism isn't necessarily being a soldier, but it DOES mean the supporting of those who are!

Amen. Brother.....

For or against the war(s), support our soldiers.

Hammer Of The GODS
07-08-2008, 07:46 PM
Amen. Brother.....

For or against the war(s), support our soldiers.

It seems like a no brainer doesn't it?

stlrtruck
07-09-2008, 10:33 AM
It seems like a no brainer doesn't it?

Unfortunately there are those out there operating with either none or half a brain - specifically when it comes to the treatment of our soldiers and veterans.