Memorial Day: A Time Of Reflection, Remembering


Memorial Day - every year when it comes around I have a lot of the same thoughts. I remember those who have passed on, those who died fighting for this country and yes, even those who disrespect this country.

I cringe every time I see someone burn the United States Flag, take a knee during the National Anthem, refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

No, I never served.

And no, it's not because I think they don't have a right or because I am necessarily against the "why" they do it.

It's because there are somethings, that even though they are a "right" for everyone to be able to do, I don't think it means they should do them.

And I realize some veterans would even disagree to some extent. There are those who say they fought so people could have those rights.

But still, some things should be sacred. Some things should be respected always - and not disrespected because someone wants to make a point or "be heard" or "seen".

I remember several years ago I interviewed a family who had lost a son. He was a young man who was going places. A young man who had made the decision to fight for the people of this country so they would be able to enjoy the freedoms they have. A young man who ultimately gave all so others could have.

Army 2nd Lt. Luke S. James was one of three soldiers who were killed January 27, 2004, in an improvised explosive device attack near Iskandariyah, Iraq. He was only 24 years old.

I knew Luke's family. And my heart broke for them.

How would I be able to ask them to remember their great loss? To recount the life that was cut so short and go over how that life was taken?

I knew I had to do it. I had to do it for Luke. After all, he had done so much more than what I was about to do.

We gathered in their living room and the memories began.

Luke was a graduate of Hooker, Okla., High School, where he graduated at the top of his class. He had completed ROTC at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla., where he also earned a degree in animal science. He was a new husband, having married his wife, Molly, only about a year before he left for Iraq. They met at OSU.

It would be only a day before he shipped out that someone would take a photo of Luke in his uniform holding his son, 6-month-old Bradley Heath. Luke is smiling his big, warm, Oklahoma Panhandle smile. A young man proud to serve his country, proud to be a father and husband, proud to be a brother and son.

And yet, in just an instant, brief moment - he was gone.  He had only been in Iraq for about a week when the attack occurred. Luke was a platoon leader assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 505th Infantry, stationed out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

When he was killed, he left behind his wife and son; his parents, Brad and Arleen James; a sister, Sharla who was only 17; and a younger brother, Kirby, who was then 21; and a host of other family and multitude of friends.

I think about Luke and others every time someone decides to burn a flag or take a knee during the anthem.

It makes me angry.

It makes me not want to support their cause, even if I might have been sympathetic towards it prior to that moment.

Luke is just one of thousands upon thousands who have given their all - their very lives so the rest of us could enjoy the freedoms we have. He was just one of so many who served.

My father, brother, uncles, cousins, friends, and so many more also served. Luke's son is serving now and his father served before him.

There are so many things wrong in this world. So many things that need to be changed. I know that.

I just wish when a cause is important to someone, they would consider those who gave them the rights and freedoms they enjoy before they choose the venue to protest that cause. Even if some of those who served feel you have the right to your voice - please, use your voice in the right way. There are other ways to get your point across. Other ways to make changes.

If someone can fight for this country, fight for you and me. If they can sacrifice so much, don't you think a little common sense and respect is not too much to give them in return? Common sense, respect - they are just as important as your freedom in taking a stand.


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