Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Never Forget

They held a memorial service today for the two officers lost tragically last week.

There were memorial tributes to the two men, some reflections on their military careers, what they accomplished, what kind of men they were, sympathy for the families they leave behind.

Surviving members of their command paid tribute to their abilities, their dedication, their passion in their jobs, their commitment to our purpose. The ceremony itself centered on a memorial stand of boots, rifle and helmet in a fashion now well established for such memorials.

I didn't feel comfortable taking photographs, that seemed a violation of something sacred.

We overflowed the rather small grandstand seating that sites in front of the main archway, much of the Division HHC turned out, and many of us from other subordinate commands.

Our band played, one band soldier played Taps, and a honor guard executed a firing of volleys with deep solemnity.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a command delegation began the rendering of final respects, followed by a selected contingent of HHC soldiers, followed then by all other mourners present.

The band has gotten quite good throughout the Division AO, they've done more than a few of these now.

I have never fully understood the devotion expressed by survivors of past wars and conflicts. I must have thought somehow that such attachment of sentiment had to have something to do with something unique about the individuals or the units, or even the war. The Greatest Generation was great, wasn't it, because of the depth of their sacrifice or magnitude of their struggle or the great consequence of their triumph?

I don't think that anymore. I think I now understand the bond that veterans speak of, the bond of common experience, of course, but a bond of common sacrifice and loss as well. We have shed blood here. We leave a piece of the whole here. Innocence lost, some scarring in a place that had for most of us not known wound before.

I resolve never again to let the petty concerns of bureaucracy or organizational politics blind me to the reality of the human beings alongside whom we serve. We may have had our differences, all of us, as we struggle to bring order to chaos, and discipline to violence. But we will never share with others outside, that connection to the past that does not travel with us forward in time. There are memories that will stay locked in OIF III, in 2005, in the Month of June, in the sweltering heat of the Iraqi summer.

During final respects, the band began playing again softly. I wasn't sure at first the tune. By the time it reached the refrain, it was clear: they played "It Is Well With My Soul."

There are times, when through circumstance or the providence of others upon whom He places His purpose, God makes His presence felt. Very near, very strong. But in that still small voice. I will never forget.

As a postscript to my earlier posts about this tragic event, Mrs. Dadmanly tells me that on the evening she was able to have confirmed that I was safe and sound, the CD that she was listening to had a hymn that provided her great peace and comfort the moment it began. Third track. Do I need to say which hymn?

"It Is Well With My Soul."

(Linked as Covered Dish this lunchtime at Basil's Blog.)

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