Now that Innkeeper Brian is retired from the FAA, part of his daily routine is to raise and lower the flag. As I watch, I can almost hear the sounds of Taps playing softly… solemnly. A wonderful young man I know graduated from West Point this weekend and will soon be flying helicopters. While stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin, California, Brian worked avionics on CH-46 Sea Knights. For years I had watched the giant “ants’ slowly crawl across the sky, and I would imagine the different scenarios where choppers were the last thread of hope for a soldier’s escape. I grew up during the Vietnam era, and graphic news images were forever imprinted on my memory. Several years later, we watched the movie, Black Hawk Down, and my heart went out to the crew as they desperately fought to survive in Somalia. Little did I know that the sole surviving prisoner portrayed in that movie would be my North Woods neighbor. Michael Durant is from Berlin, New Hampshire and documented his experience in his book In the Company of Heroes: The True Story of Black Hawk Pilot Michael Durant and the Men Who Fought and Fell at Mogadishu
The sub-title… the” men who fought and fell” … that should give each of us a moment to pause. Those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for duty – for brotherhood – for country – they deserve our remembrance. Their heartbroken families deserve our remembrance. Those who still wonder about their beloved POWs deserve our prayers. I was glad to receive a phone notification at 3pm today to spend a moment of reflection for Memorial Day. My thoughts went out to the families left behind and appreciation flooded my heart for soldiers of the past and present. Heroes such as Michael Durant, and Sai Giunta who was ambushed with his platoon in Afghanistan, and Kyle Carpenter who threw himself on top of a grenade and lost his eye, his teeth, and fractured dozens of bones as he shielded others. These heroes survived but live with the memories of friends who were not so fortunate.
What lies ahead for my young West Point graduate friend? I sometimes struggle not to shudder. Truly, he deserves a salute because he worked so very hard over the last four years and is bravely embracing an uncertain future. He, his classmates, and many others are ready to protect this nation at all costs. But as I consider my young military friends, author Mark Bowden’s quote comes to mind “When war starts, a soldier wants like hell to be there, but once he’s there, he wants like hell to come home.”
Dear reader, if you have lost a military family member, comrade, or friend, we at The Inn at OxBow Acres salute you. Your memories are important, and we would love for you to share them. As Brian lowers the flag each evening, we will remember the stories of your loved ones. They deserve it.