Every single night for the last twenty-eight months the alarm on my husband Chris's watch has gone off between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m., depending on the time changes. His watch is set to Afghan time, and the alarm set to 9:30 a.m. It was delivered to me in pristine condition -- arriving in a small black bag with the words, "U.S. Army" inscribed on it in gold. It was given to me along with three others that contained Chris's earplug case, uniform patches, and his camera. They arrived from Dover Air Force Base mortuary, where my husband was flown into after he was killed in Afghanistan.
These items were what were on Chris the day he was killed. The day he and two fellow soldiers were shot to death in Paktya Province, Afghanistan on September 9, 2011.
Chris was only 26 years old, a few weeks shy of his 27th birthday. He loved to shoot, and loved to fish. No one loved America more than him, and no one had a greater warrior's heart or protector's spirit. He wanted nothing more than to use his God given talents to do his duty and serve this great nation that he loved more than anything -- and ultimately gave his life for.
On Tuesday January 28, President Barack Obama gave his fifth annual State of the Union address. The president was eloquent as always, and he delivered a confident speech in which he discussed the end of the war in Afghanistan, health care, the economy, al Qaeda, and he even took the time to thank the wounded and the living who have bravely fought for our nation's defense of freedom.
"In tight-knit communities across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades, and give thanks for being home from a war that, after twelve long years, is finally coming to an end."
...and over 8,000 families will not get that opportunity, that blessing, that gift.
Those 8,000 families are those who are left behind to bear the burden of war -- those who are left behind to remember, to mourn, and most importantly tell the stories and share the legacies of America's greatest heroes.
Those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Their very lives.
These are the families of patriots who volunteered to serve their country during war -- never asking for anything in return. They are quiet, humble, and stoic heroes. They say what makes the American service member different is that he loves what is behind him rather than hating what is in front of him. It was true for Chris.
Why do we live in an America where we refuse to acknowledge the losses we have suffered, the men and women who have given their lives, and the blood and treasure that has been sacrificed to water the tree of liberty?
I sat on eggshells during the president's speech, waiting, anticipating for Chris to have his moment. For the Commander and Chief of our nation's armed forces to acknowledge his sacrifice -- his life. I waited in vain.
You see, it's not just about Chris, or him having his "moment". Since our nation's inception, nearly one million men and women have selflessly laid down their lives for our country -- for you and I -- so we may be free, so we may live and pursue the American dream, and continue on with the American way of life. They've asked nothing in return of us, but the very least we can do, is at least acknowledge them so we can always remember that freedom is not free. So we can remember that we do have a responsibility to fight for this nation here on the home front that they fought to defend overseas. Our freedom and our liberty was purchased with a great price.
It's a sad day in America when we fail to acknowledge those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and have given their very lives so we could be free -- especially during a time when we are still at war.
I hope and pray that next year Chris and all of his fallen comrades can get the acknowledgement they deserve when the President addresses the nation on the state of her union. As President Kennedy once said, "A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers."
Please take a look at all of the men and women who have laid down their lives for you and I.