Gosh dang it!
I deleted it. Damn near half of it.
I have started this multiple times already and it's irritating. I knwo I am over thinking this shit... I also know I'm not striving for perfct - defiintly not... I even misspelled this stuipd paragrah for that reason. haha.
I've been aware of the coming week and in the back of my mind I have been thinking about this morning for ish now a couple weeks. Definitely this past week.. and for sure at 430AM..
When I was nearing the end of high school I had a choice that I decided to pass on. Call it fate, call it other purpose, I'm not sure. But one of the things that has bothered me for a couple years now has been that I never joined the Military. I know - weird.. but that's the truth.
I'm not sure if it's the way I have shifted my spirit in life, the way I carry myself, or the things that I have chosen to dedicate my life to. I do not claim to be a Veteran, I do not act intentionally as such, however, I am frequently asked if I served before. I have so much respect for those that have, especially those who've seen the horror's of combat and have come home, I am quick to say "No, no I didn't".
It's taken me a while to be ok with how I feel after saying that. Because the question is often delivered like - "Hey, did you watch the game last night?" There's a level of excitement in the "I wanna tell you something".. But when I say no I didn't, there's a socially acceptable "oh, ok" that follows... almost like I let someone down. hahah.. I know, super lame analogy, but that's legit how I feel.
It's taken me some time to know how to have that elevator speech when I'm asked that kind of question. I now say thank you, but I did not serve, however the military has had a big impact on my life.
The single biggest impact happened to me years ago.. years before I started this new life that I live today. It was a rock in the pond that turned into a wave. When my buddy Chris Pike died it changed my life. I am not happy he died, no. Not even close. But if there was a time in my life to be at such a funeral, one that I will never forget, that was the time.
I am not the same anymore because of Chris. I was not on the rooftop with him and his brothers dodging bullets and being out numbered that day.. I cannot process that kind of stress, nervous-excitement on the reality of what's going on.. not even close. (I use excitement loosely - but you get the jest)
But I can recall the stresses with him when we were F'ing off as kids doing shit that we definitely we not supposed to. The true nervous-excitement found in doing shit that boys are "sometimes" known to do.. much of it could have gotten us in A LOT of trouble, or even killed ourselves. Yes, we were that group of kids.
So to think when we parted ways, them joining the Navy, me going to college... I honestly thought he'd die in a motorcycle accident being a wild asshole.
Nope, wasn't that.
Instead, he was in Afghanistan, doing nervous-exciting-ballsy-scary shit.. shit that had the risk of getting hurt or killed.. and in doing so, sadly his time was called and he was fatally injured along side his brothers.
Being at the funeral hearing, his commanding officers talk, his brothers talk - man! Life changing. I could genuinely relate what it must have been like with him when all that was going down. Their stories were similar in context what I experienced with him as a kid... All seen through the lens of a brother.
I did not need to be on that rooftop to feel any closer to him when he died. He was a childhood brother, who died doing something amazing.. something he had the freedom to chose to do, something he did well at.
I will never forget him.
If you ask Chas what's the one holiday I hate the most, the one holiday that I think is just lamer than lame, she'll tell you it's Valentines Day. and that's the damn truth! I do not need someone to tell me when to love my person in life. You're supposed to do it DAILY. This morning, I woke up in a warm bed, next to my wonderful wife, where we raise two amazing boys in a home that I have practically built by hand... and like many others, I have taken today off to enjoy a long four day weekend because of Memorial Day.
I love that we live in a country that has given a day to our Vets. For where we are, we need this kind of reminder..
This weekend is NOT for me.
This weekend is NOT for you.
NOT for burgers,
NOT for beer,
NOT for BBQ's,
NOT for discount sales on furniture, appliances, you name it.
This weekend is for THEM.
If you have ever lost someone in your life, you do not think of them only on the day they were born or the day they died.
You think about them ALWAYS!
Shit will creep up and kick you in the face, ruining your day.. wrought with guilt, sadness, longing for. If you have lost someone, you know that kind of feeling.
So, it's Memorial Day weekend... please do not tell a Vet "happy memorial day"....
Thank them for their service.
Ask them if there is anything YOU can do for them.
Do something for them, even if they didn't ask for it.
Be there for THEM.
Memorial Day is not just about those whom we've lost in combat - NO.
If you ask any combat vet about the loss of a brother, many would say that they wish it were them who had gone. Their pain is ten fold what we will ever know as a civilian because combat is life heightened to 1,000%... and so is death... or worse. Death at home because they can't deal with life any more.
So, this weekend while you have a cold beer in your hand, surrounded by friends, cooking burgers on the grill you bought at a discount, I hope it's under an American Flag that you'll keep up year round.
I hope you can stop more than just once... say nothing, do nothing, and simply be present. Present and understand how fortunate you are; world problems and all.
I hope you FEEL grateful to live in a country where people have the freedom to become who they want to be.
I hope you FEEL grateful to live in a country where countless strangers have put their life on the line and died trying. Died trying to make sure we have the freedom to do things we want to do.
To thank them without words, but in action, I have chosen to live my life worthy of their sacrifice. Their sacrifice of life. The sacrifices they gave up to come come back. Thank you Chris Pike, RIP Thank you Travis Blow
Thank you Marc Lee, RIP
Thank you Rob Guzzo, RIP
Thank you John Williams
Thank you Brian Mancini, RIP
Thank you to the countless ~
I hope you can make the same actionable decision ~ because they're worth it.
My buddy Chris coming home that fateful day.
Please, make it a grateful weekend <3