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Monday, February 15, 2010

President's Day

We here at the BBB are off today but we wanted to run an article in honor of President's Day that Bolando wrote in October. Soak this one in and take a moment to reflect...

Written October 20, 2009

Last week, I attended a funeral in Exeter, NH. My cousin’s husband died in Afghanistan serving our country. He was 30 yrs old and left behind his wife, Megan, and their 2 yr old daughter, Kensington. Not sure about you but I follow the war with one eye and one ear watching or listening to something else. I may hear 5 dead in Iraq on the news and gloss over that information as I plan my next fantasy football trade. But clearly, this one hit close to home. The family gathered in the church with a loss for words, as I sat next to aunts and uncles that I now might see once or twice a year. And while Megan tried to keep it together, moments hit her like a right hook from a heavyweight boxer.

Military personnel was scattered throughout the church. The Governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, paid his respects, and told my cousin, “Thank you for YOUR sacrifice.” Outside the church, about 10 veterans dressed in their civilian clothes with patches on their jackets that would read "POW – We Will Never Forget" , or "82nd Airborn" , stood in front of the church each holding a 6 foot American flag. At the cemetary, there was the 21 gun salute, the bouquet of flowers decorated like the American flag, and the bugle that played Taps. There was the touching speech by another Staff Sargent, who was stationed in Germany with Josh for 3 years, who was in Afghanistan with Josh when he was killed, and who named his own son after his best friend, Joshua. There was the honor guard who choreographed a presentation of the flag, folded it crisp and clean, handed it to the military service man in charge, who presented it to Megan. Then there was the 2nd flag which was presented to the same service man in charge, who then presented to Joshua and Megan’s daughter Kensington.

Many watched Kensington be oblivious to the day’s events. She’ll never know her father and will not remember this day. She’ll only have memories from her mother and this flag and medals he valiantly earned.

As I stood at the cemetary, watching many weep uncontrollably, I couldn’t help but appreciate this man and what he represented. I am not a political activist. If I had a conversation with a smart & staunch Republican, that person could convince me that the red states are the right states. That building a wall is the way to go. Those social programs are for the lazy. That this healthcare plan is going to ruin our country. And if I had a conversattion with a smart and staunch Democrat, that person could convince me that the blue states are the way to go. That we need healthcare reform. That we can not abandon the less fortunate.

Call me indecisive and easy to persuade, I don’t really care. But I just thought about how people have the opportunity to believe these things, to argue these points, and to do whatever they want because of people like Joshua Kirk.

I have liberties and opportunities that people in other countries.can not begin to fathom.

In America, soldiers choose to be soldiers. There is no draft. There is no obligation like Israel that forces every man and woman to spend 2 years serving his or her country. Still, it does not prevent me from expressing sympathy, appreciation and sadness for the lost life. I can not just coldly think “well he chose to be a soldier,”or “that’s why we shouldn’t be over there.”

For me, it’s about this hero, his widow and their young child.

I began writing this on Monday (October 18th) – not really knowing where it was going -- but it seemed to come full circle yesterday. On Wednesday (October 21), I had a meeting at the World Financial Center in New York City – I entered an empty conference room on the 7th floor. As we set up and waited for others to arrive – I looked out the window and there it was, right across the street.

Ground Zero.

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