Dear Friends and colleagues, I am not one to resend strings of e-mails; however, a recent experience provided a moment of clarity and understanding on what it means to be an American and to be free; thus, the reason I felt compelled to share this story and resend the attached message. Until now, I have kept this story to myself. Recently, I was returning home from a business trip. As usual, the plane was late and I was ready to be in Savannah. After boarding my connecting flight, I was aggravated that I had been assigned a coach window seat and was unable to get an upgrade. As the day slowly turned to dusk, an Army Special Forces and Color Guard unit marched silently to the adjacent aircraft. Like others on the plane, I was surprised and curious as we looked on. As they approached the plane, a small compartment opened exposing a coffin covered by the American Flag. At that moment, the usually noisy plane became silent as we witnessed the homecoming of an American soldier. Whispers broke the silence as all aboard realized someone's child, spouse, and/or parent had given the ultimate sacrifice. With precision and honor, the casket was removed from the aircraft and the military unit slowly disappeared from sight. All was quiet. A moment later, a young child, sitting behind me, whispered to his mom, "mommy, who was that?". She responded simply, "a hero". Wow......what a simple, but powerful statement. I continued to stared out the window in silence thinking of the brave men and women, all volunteers, that had lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought of the families of those lost and the range of emotions they must feel. Only moments earlier, I, like many others, had been only concerned about trivial matters that impacted me. I had taken for granted the freedoms and opportunities that had and will continue to be afforded me, while this one soldier came home, having given everything. We are free! Countless American heroes, today and in the past, have served in foreign lands to protect this right. Each of you know someone who has served and risked everything for this very special gift. We need to tell them thank you. As for the War on Terror, whether you are for or against, that is your choice. I am not trying to change your pro-war or anti-war opinion. However, I am asking you to honor the individual soldier, who is still overseas, fighting and dying for you and me. You can do this by wearing something blue on Fridays. Freedom comes with a heavy price and that is why I will be wearing blue every Friday until they all come home. Thank you for taking time to read this message. I hope that each of you continue to experience "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Please take a look at the attached photos and stories. Sincerely, John D. Trent Citadel Class 1984
International Picture of the Year Here are two very touching photos honored this year First Place : First Place Todd Heisler - The Rocky Mountain News When 2nd Lt. James Cathey's body arrived at the Reno Airport , Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac. During the arrival of another Marine's casket last year at Denver International Airport , Major Steve Beck described the scene as so powerful: 'See the people in the windows? They sat right there in the plane, watching those Marines. You gotta wonder what's going through their minds, knowing that they're on the plane that brought him home,' he said 'They will remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They're going to remember bringing that Marine home. And they should.'
Second Place Todd Heisler - The Rocky Mountain News The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. 'I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,' she said. 'I think that's what he would have wanted.' Second Place
Blue Fridays. Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing blue every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the 'silent majority' We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing. Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -- and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that .. every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar, will wear something blue. By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of blue much like a homecoming football game in the bleachers. If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family, it will not be long before the USA is covered in BLUE and it will let our troops know the once 'silent' majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on. The first thing a soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things better for you?' is ..'We need your support and your prayers.' Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something blue every Friday. Author “Unknown”