25.5.09

Day 206. The One I Remember.

It is Memorial Day in the United States today. This is a day set aside to remember and honor those who have given their lives in defense of the principles that we hold dear in the United States. Too often this becomes just "another day off" or a "holiday" but I do like to think that many still take at least some time to remember the purpose of this day that has been set aside.

I have not had someone immediately close to me serve in any of the armed forces, although I count quite a few excellent members of the Coast Guard, Army and Marines as my friends. I wanted to honor one of them today of all days and as I thought of the many instances I've had to be in awe of those who serve, one most poignant memory came to my mind.

On 9.11, I was living and working in DC. Directly IN the district. At the company at which I was working, one whole department was made up primarily of Marines (note: if you didn't know already you never say "retired Marine" as this story proves). I'll never forget the surreal experience of standing in the IT department, watching the Pentagon burn outside our office windows and watching the towers begin to lean and ultimately fall on a small, 3 inch black and white TV on one of our Network Admin's desks. There was a surreal silence because no cell phones were working and I don't think anyone had any words anyway. In the midst of this, one of our co-workers, a Marine, picked up the phone and dialed a number (apparently a rather secret number - this gentleman used to be part of the team that would "carry the football" for the President - the football was the briefcase that held the nuclear codes). I can't remember what he said but I remember it becoming very clear that he was talking to someone very high up, in lots of terms I would never even be allowed to understand, and, in the midst of this craziness, he was trying to go back to being on active duty...IMMEDIATELY.

Another co-worker who is a Marine came to stand beside me and explained what was happening. And again said, "once a Marine, always a Marine". I can understand and identify with the emotion that propells one to react in the face of agression or to defend that which they hold dear, but I don't know that I could ever have the strength of character to, without hesitation, potentially give my life for all of my fellow countrymen in the face of such a scary attack.

I know enough to know that that which our service men and women go through, and give up, to protect us is something that can leave me in total awe and often close to tears. I hope that each of you can take a moment to appreciate what our men and women in uniform have given to us all. Today, I salute each of them for the fact that every day, my biggest concern can be what I want to do with my day; that today the only thing I am struggling with is how to write this blog post appropriately and what to pack for an upcoming trip.

The gentlemen I worked with in DC taught me a tremendous amount about what it means to be a Marine, and to my one friend on the phone that awful day 8 years ago, I thank you for teaching me about how much you give for me...at a moments notice.

Happy Memorial Day...and THANK YOU

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