Thanks, Brother, Today and Every Day

12/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Thanks, Sher. It's Veterans Day, big guy, I'm sure you know that. Today we are asked to remember and thank you, but you know this is every day for me. I've been thanking you since we were simply brothers coming up together. And I've been remembering you every day since your tragic death 4 years ago in the Baghdad streets. Wanted to let you know--it ain't gonna stop.

I was thankful when you were finishing my fights and starting your own, all in the name of protecting me, your hopeless little brother. Our parents thank you for having been such a great son. Ironic, isn't it, that you came to them by nothing more than God's Grace and fate on Veterans Day in 1974 and they never let you go. 34 years later, I can tell you with conviction that they count it as one of the happiest days of their lives. I remember, even as kids, the difficulty of our situation, but you let them love you, and you multiplied that love countless times over back to them.

Your son; Jesus, your son, Sherwood, he is thankful. He has your laugh, your big feet, your innocence. And he didn't get your demons, I'm sure you can see that.

Your country is thankful that you took the selfless oath to serve, even at the cost of your life. Honor is enduring, it is immortal. And it is necessary, ever more now. Thank you for being that light. You shine brighter today, Sher.

You remember the letter to the editor you wrote when your kid's school district didn't recognize MLK's birthday? I do. I remember your words well. You said that truth and honesty, as painful as they may be at times, must be taught because it is the only road to progress in this great nation. You'd be happy to know that we elected a black President, and that a majority of the people who read your article in the paper up in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton voted for him.

You should have heard him today.

Let us rededicate ourselves to keep a sacred trust with all who have worn the uniform of the United States of America: that America will serve you as well as you have served your country. As your next commander in chief, I promise to work every single day to keep that sacred trust with all who have served.

Sadly, we do have to rededicate ourselves. We've lost the trust. We sent you on a bad mission, we sent you without proper equipment. We sent you without enough food and water. You said it in your last e-mail home. But you went, didn't you? And you didn't complain. You tried to make it right. You even threw whatever rationed food you had off the back of the Humvee to Iraqi kids. Yeah, your buddies told me about that.

And I know you, you crazy motherfucker, you would go again. But we owe you more than that. And for your brothers and sisters who served and who will serve, we're going to do better. Believe me.

We're going to thank you, thank all of you, in ways that matter.

Never again will we send you to a war based on lies. Never again will we deny you the care you earned when you return. We will not shred your case files, we will not make you recover in rat infested rooms. We will not try to lower your disability ratings to get off the hook for your care.

We will retain you in our ranks because you want to serve, not because we don't offer you enough money to pay for college.

We will not commit you to fight and die in the name of ignorance and vengeance, expecting you, and you alone, to do the dirty work. We will not forgo personal sacrifice in times of war.

Never again will we be so negligent when we put your lives in the balance.

Change is here, man. The country is more hopeful than you and I had ever known. I remember the dog days of the Reagan years when we were out in the cold together, this or that protest, for the Sanctuary movement, Nuclear Freeze, against war toys during Christmas season (Ha! And you still joined the Army!).

It's all paying off. Shit, even the Phillies won the World Series. The good guys are on top. It's ripe with possibility. I wish you were here to see it.

Thanks, Sher. I miss you, brother.


They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say,
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.

Archibald MacLeish

cross posted at DailyKos