I spent today reading Final Salute by Jim Sheeler. Wow. If you haven't read it -- DO SO. A book about young men killed in Iraq may seem like the wrong choice for a woman whose younger brother and son in law are both active duty Naval officers -- especially with the son in law currently deployed. I have to say that Fitz and Derek were never far from my mind as I read the book, but I'm so glad that I did. It follows a Marine whose duty it is to go to the homes of those killed in the war and tell the family. The author then stayed in touch with the families as they dealt with their losses. I cried a lot. I wanted to hug my son REALLY badly -- these Marines were barely older than Rob. Major Steve Beck, the marine, is an empathetic caring man, and I think that maybe the families who he had to notify are the better for having had him deliver the news. He really cares. They talked to other people who were not so lucky, who were contacted by uncaring people, who never had any follow up support. He is now Lt. Colonel Beck and has been re-assigned to the Washington, DC area. I hope that whoever took his place is half the man he is, and I hope that his new duty assignment allows him to share his wonderful, caring soul.
The author manages to leave himself completely out of the book. He recorded what the families and the military escorts experienced and left it at that. He won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, and this is well deserved.
Have I mentioned that this book should be required reading for every American citizen? Because it should. We go along and take our comfortable lives and the freedoms we enjoy for granted. But this book brings home the fact that freedom isn't free. Never has been. If you know a vet, or the family of an active duty service man or woman, take a moment to thank them for their contribution to the American Way Of Life. We owe it to them.
Happy Memorial Day. It isn't just a 3 day weekend, or a day to grill out. It's a day to remember those that gave their lives for all of us.
Little Rabbit Climbs Big Sage
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