Monday, May 31, 2010

Pride and Pause

On this Memorial Day, I thought I'd share the unforgettable evening I had on Thursday. I attended the Salute to Freedom dinner aboard the USS Intrepid (Sea Air and Space Museum). This year's honoree was Gen. Patraeus, Commanding General of US Central Command. I was very excited at the thought of getting to hear the General speak and to attend a black tie dinner aboard such a famous ship (where I could actually wear a bridesmaid dress again!)

Cocktail hour inside the museum, where you could enjoy the various exhibits, was enjoyable. But little did I know that the most remarkable part of the evening would not occur until I sat down at my table.

While exchanging pleasantries with the couple to my left, I asked what brought them to the dinner. The woman started to tell their story but stopped as she got choked up. Her husband went on to explain that their son was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in January. Their sadness was so great, but they seemed amazingly resilient and were doing their best to remember their son by helping other soldiers through Operation Goodybag. As I sat there listening to their story, what should I say? I spoke from the heart and held back tears as I said, "thank you for your son's service."

I had said hello to the family to my right but they didn't seem especially talkative before dinner. But chit chat about why I would be eating a plate of tofu and grains, while everyone else was enjoying a nice steak, cracked the ice. When I asked the father what brought them to the dinner, he immediately shared his son's story. His son was severely wounded in Afghanistan when his humvee drove over an IED. He lost both legs and sustained a brain injury among other very serious injuries. He was visited by General Patraeus at Walter Reed Hospital in 2008. When the General entered his room and yelled the nickname of the Lieutenant's regiment, he woke up out of the coma he had been in for 22 days. The father agreed when I said that was nothing short of a miracle. The General has kept in touch and the Lieutenant is doing much better and is still in the Army. And on Thursday night, he and his parents were special guests of General Patraeus. Amazing! General Patraeus describes 1st Lt. Brian Brennan as a living hero and I definitely agree!!

I left the ship, extremely proud to be an American, profoundly grateful for the service of our men and women in uniform and with a heightened sense that we much not forget their service.

Happy Memorial Day!


Blogger Anuradha said...

I absolutely agree that our servicemen and women are heroes. Let's not forget them when they come home . . .

Happy Memorial Day,

10:57 AM  

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