Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

So, for Memorial Day I am going to talk about Christopher. Infantry guy from Roswell, New Mexico. Married, had a little girl. Loved rock music, particularly Black Label Society. He had a big BLS flag which hung over his rack in the barracks. Had a sweet little electric guitar he used to play along to their albums to, along with an amp which would occasionally piss off the people in the bay with him. He loved old rock too- Tom Petty, Skynard of course. Had a fair amount of Johnny Cash.

He wasn't politically stupid either. Read a lot of Right side stuff; some O'Reilly etc., but also had a well dog-eared copy of Howard Zinn's “A People's History of the United States.” He liked video games, usually ones where he did what he did in real life- war games where you go out and shoot the bad guy and keep going until someone gets you. He had his games crammed in with his movies- mostly stuff he'd bought there in Iraq, playing the games and the movies on a little TV he'd crammed into his little space with his guitar and music and books.

When I met him, all that were left were these mementos. I went through it, item by item, meeting the man with whom I would never speak. Filing the pictures of his wife and daughter. Counting the CDs (nearly 300!) and movies and placing all of it into footlockers, carefully inventoried and then locked away.

Christopher and his squad walked into a building north of Baqubah, Iraq that morning, and the entire thing blew up on them, killing him and his entire squad. I was the officer who inventoried and packed his things to make the trip home he never would. I was sorely tempted to put a note, some little piece of comfort or condolence for his wife and daughter, but luckily I was wise enough to forego this; I didn't really know him. I only knew what was left. I only had an evidentiary connection to who he had been, and somehow in my mind that created a relationship of some kind, a bond with a man with whom I had a lot in common, but whose name I only learned when I was handed the info sheet with his name, last, first, middle initial across the top. I had no right to him though, and what could I say to his wife or child except, “he seemed like a good guy.”

It's been more than a year and a half since I put together Christopher's personal effects. He still comes to mind when I see a Black Label Society t-shirt, or hear Tom Petty's “Full Moon Fever.” I hope his family has learned to cope, and I hope they remember him fondly. Even though I have no right to...

...I miss him. Weird huh? For Memorial Day, I ask you all to remember someone who shouldn't be gone, but since they are, should be missed.


Anonymous said...

Dan ~ Thank you for sharing this. It's so very touching and intimate. Of course I'm crying and saying a prayer for all of our men and women who have served and sacrificed for me ... now, present and future. My continued prayers are given for their loved ones who have also sacrificed and may have to go on without many of their courageous family members.

You are a good man... wise beyond your years. I love you.


Eric Trautmann said...

Well said, sir. Well said.