In Memoriam

Two year ago today I was catapulted off of the USS Nimitz in an experience that forever changed the way I look at our service men and women. I know I write ridiculous nonsense but today I salute the brave men and women who fought, and who fight, and who gave their lives in the name of something bigger than themselves.

Today I dedicate this post to the people in my family who never returned from the fight, and the people in yours as well.

Freedom Is Not Free ~ by Kelly Strong

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, freedom isn’t free.

I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant “Amen,”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn’t free.

54 thoughts on “In Memoriam

Read comments below or add one.

  1. And to think most Americans believe Memorial Day is about honoring the memories of shopping days and barbeques long, long ago…


  2. Very well done – we’re all lucky for the lives we have. Big thanks to all the men and women in their military as well as their families who make huge sacrifices.


  3. I also want to thank the family standing on their front lawn, waving with American flags at cars passing by on their way to Quantico National Cemetary. There was no parade; they were simply paying their respects. Notice taken and appreciated.

  4. Love this poem. A beautiful and fitting tribute.
    Capt. John L. Dunnavant, my dad.
    WO James M. Dunnavant, my uncle.
    The families they left behind.

  5. I was a hippie girl who lit candles when the war in Iraq started, who married a Marine two years later. My crazy liberal thoughts never mask the gratitude and respect for those who have served us in the past, and who currently serve.

  6. Thank you. My son-in-law made it back from Baghdad safely – but not quite right.He lost 8 platoon buddies in that infamous June 2007 firefight. It’s taken him a long time to acclimate to civilain life. everything you hear about teating brain injury to debriefing’, is not true. It took over 2 years for the night terrors to end. and he’s just one family member – my daughter served and so did my son. both are injured. this besides fathers and grandfathers – that’s a given. I’m glad that someone realizes that a wounded coming home is Almost as hard as being given a flag, a box of belongings and a casket. Buuy-yahhh.

  7. I wanted to share with you a quote from a favorite author of mine.

    “While we mourn the loss of those who died, we must also pay tribute to you who fought and suffered with equal valor–and survived.”

    Diana Gabaldon used this in her 5th book The Fiery Cross. Chapter 15 “The Flames of Declaration”.

  8. Thanks, Jenny. It means a lot that someone with your influence would remind people of the sacrifices our troops make.

  9. My dad is is a vet 26 years of service. I live in a town with army and air force. Several families I know have lost son’s in the marines in the last few years. Today is most certinally more than BBQ’s and sales for my family. We have been lucky enough for that my dad had to be a way for the family for extended periods of time and has only been in a combat zone. But military lIfe is very hard on service members as well as their families. I hope that every one takes the time out to think no only of those that severe and but those who love them and have lost them well.

  10. I love the way you can switch from ridiculous to serious when you feel it was warranted. I have all the respect in the world for the men and women who serve. But no respect at all for the way our government cares for them afterwards. I have seen the before and after of people who have gone to war and the person we welcome home is never the same as the person we say goodbye to.

  11. Also, that’s a beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing. Not enough poetry gets shared these days. It’s such a powerful form of writing.

  12. It is too easy to forget the real reason we mark Memorial Day as we grab a drink from the cooler and a burger off the grill – thanks to those who make it all possible! And a moment to reflect on all who have had their lives altered by war and those who have been lost, including my paternal grandfather, who died in a plane crash in WWII, leaving behind his wife and infant son.

  13. My brother’s leaving for Marine OCS on Thursday. Reading all the posts I’ve seen dedicated to those who have served makes me tear up and swell with pride. I doubt he’ll ever see combat, since he’s an engineer, but I have so much respect for those who do go and fight for our our country. It hurts to think about how it must feel to lose someone in that combat. Thank you for posting this. I need to go blot my face now because it’s all wet.

  14. So true. I have a lot of friends and family who are/were in the service. And even though they’ve made it back, they’re not the same… They give up a lot more than we realize. Love and prayers to all those who have or had loved ones in war.

  15. Aw, you’re fantastic.

    Ironically, I just discovered a blog today, It’s a Houston guy writing from where he’s stationed in Afghanistan. Read it, if you have time. He’s pretty awesome.

  16. I find it very interesting, as someone who doesn’t live in the same country as you, how Americans interpret War, Peace and Freedom. Regardless of political backgrounds, we can all agree that if there must be a war, there must be people who put the greater good first in their lives and who make the ultimate sacrifice. I am thankful for those people. And for the people who take the time to draw attention to them and encourage others to be thankful.

  17. I don’t agree with the principle of war, but I will always respect and be grateful for the service our troops have given our country to help keep us free.

  18. Thank you, Jennifer. This fat old Vietnam vet thanks you. Would that this day would never have been necessary – or that we learn enough from it so that it speaks to an end of War.

  19. Last year I did a post where I simply wanted to list the family and extended family that had served and been lost and it ended up being super sad to me looking at all the flag cases in the front room, and thinking about how lucky I am. In the last year 6 more family members have joined. I really don’t want that list to get any longer. For anyone.

  20. You are amazing, Jenny. This post was perfect and so was the poem. The men and women in the military are heroes, plain and simple. They do what they have to do to protect our freedoms – and some make the ultimate sacrifice. It isn’t about whether or not you agree with the politics; or whether or not war is warranted; it is about these brave men and women who put their lives on the line for us – especially when you remember that they do it willingly.

  21. I play in the Army Band, Pershing’s Own, for a living, and we play for military funerals at Arlington Cemetery every weekday. I can assure you that this day means so very much to families and friends of the brave service members who gave their lives. Thank you for honoring them in this post.

  22. Here’s to all of the men and women who never made it back, and to the ones who left pieces of themselves strewn all over somewhere else so that we could sit down and write whatever the fuck we want to, without fear of a tyrant regime taking that away from us.

  23. what a beautiful poem- thank you for this. All my great uncles and both Grandfathers (now passed) were WWll vets and many were decorated. Anytime I see a young man or woman in uniform I thank them for their service. God Bless our vets.

  24. I found out a lot of interesting things about my grandfather at his funeral. He was very passionate about fighting in WWII, he was shocked and disgusted by what was going on and felt like he had to go and fight. While he was in training in Ontario, they learned that many of the local farms were desperately in need of work because all the strong young men had gone to join the army. He and the other recruits helped out on the farms while in training for war. Those are the kind of people that fought for freedom. I like those people and I’d rather have them.

  25. Greta sentiment and all that, only, is the first stanza missing a line?

    So young, so tall, so proud,
    *shouldn’t there be another line here??*
    He’d stand out in any crowd.

    Cos otherwise the poem’s rhyming struture is out of whack. Just sayin.

  26. Thanks for posting this. I come from a family filled with military members and I myself just joined the Army (although I totally don’t know what I’m doing and I just spelled out something using ‘unicorn’ for U), but anyways- it means a lot.

  27. We lost my nephew in 2005 to a car bomb in Iraq. Thank you you for your remembrance and kindness.

  28. Very well said then, this one is the serious piece that you have mad ever. By the way I so much salute all in the military they are truly our heroes who are sacrificing to fight for us against rebellious people.

  29. Big thanks to all the men and women in their military as well as their families who make huge sacrifices. Capt. I normally wouldn’t post a link in another’s comments section, but I read this article and it resonated with me. It isn’t about whether or not you agree with the politics; or whether or not war is warranted; it is about these brave men and women who put their lives on the line for us – especially when you remember that they do it willingly.

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