November 13, 2005

13 NOV 2004

The events that happened one year ago today have changed my life. I know it sounds ridiculous and crass to say that, since it was my friend who lost her husband and not I, but I have never been the same. And though I didn't lose someone I love, I watched someone I love lose her husband, and I've watched her learning to live all over again for the past year.

I'm horrified that the reason we've become friends is because she lost her husband. I hate that this is so. I hate that I feel pressured to find more to talk about with her than just Fallujah and Cindy Sheehan. I hope we'll get there someday, because I've really grown to like her. I just hate the way we became friends.

Thursday night, Red6 came over for dinner. We had a little moment of silence remembering CSM Faulkenburg, which started a discussion of Fallujah. My husband was originally supposed to go instead of Red6. My husband had orders in hand for 24 hours, but then the Powers That Be decided two trips to Najaf was enough for one company, and they sent Red6 instead. If you've read Red6's blog, you know they made a good choice, and that's how my husband ended up on R&R instead of in Fallujah.

Our lives hang by a thread.

What my friendship with Heidi has taught me is to never take my husband for granted. We hug each other a little more often. We end our bickering a little more quickly. And we talk about death a lot more frequently. We've learned to dismiss any and all "hardships" that come our way, because it could always be a lot worse. I've learned to cherish life, more than I ever did before. I hate that it took a good man's death to teach me such a lesson, but I'm grateful for the lesson nonetheless.

I tell everyone over and over again how humbled I am to be Heidi's friend. She was the first person I thought of when I woke up today, and I can't even begin to tell her how sorry I am.

She has worried about how history will regard her husband's sacrifice: will it have been worth his life? I think history will show that her husband gave his life to preserve freedom and that it was indeed worth it. And I hope for the same future that Bill Whittle does:

Despite all the switches in the rail yard, there is a flow and a direction to history that cannot and will not be denied.

It is the slow, uneven, grasping climb toward freedom. There are markers on Little Round Top, on the beaches at Normandy, and in the sands of Nasiriyah that show us where men have fought and laid down their lives, and willingly left their wives without husbands and their children without fathers, all for this idea. It is an idea bigger than they are, bigger than self-centered movie stars, bigger than cynical and bitter journalists, bigger than Presidents and Dictators, bigger, in fact, than all human failure and miscalculation.

It is the idea that people – all people – deserve to live their lives in freedom. Free from fear. Free from want. Free from despair and hatred.

My country has, again, taken up that banner, and the behavior of our young men and women under unimaginable stress and provocation has filled me with fierce and unremitting pride. We fight, nearly alone, alongside old and true friends, British and Australian, themselves decent and honorable people, long champions of freedom who have their own Waterloos and Gallipolis and cemeteries marked with fields of red poppies, rolls of sacrifice and honor that should fill all American hearts with pride. For friends like this are worth having, and I will always prefer the company of one or two solid, dependable friends over legions of fashionable and trendy and unreliable ones.

And someday, centuries from now, in the world we all hope for but which only a few will fight for, all of this death and destruction will be gone. All that will be left will be small markers in green fields that were once deserts, places where Iraqi families may walk someday with the same taken-for-granted sense of happiness and security I had in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

And perhaps they will read the strange-sounding names, and try to imagine a time when it was all in doubt.

Heidi can hold her head high, knowing that someday Iraqi children will read this name and be grateful. I am grateful already.


Posted by Sarah at November 13, 2005 11:09 AM | TrackBack

Don't forget to add Bunker Hill to that list of signature battle-sites. Our military is older than the nation it serves because it was our military that fought, bled and died to make America a free nation.

Posted by: Eric at November 13, 2005 03:50 PM

Thank you for such an eloquent post. It made me shed some tears for Heidi and all those who have lost their husbands and fathers. We do take life for granted so much of the time, but as one grows older and experiences more, one begins to realize the real priorities and sacrifices in life. With your blog, Sarah, if you can make a difference in even one person's life, you have succeeded. I hope you continue to blog for a very long time. I love you so much and am thankful God has blessed me with such a wonderful daughter. I thought of Heidi yesterday, and my prayers are with her and Colin at this time. God bless all of those who have paid the price for our freedom.
Love, Mama

Posted by: Nancy at November 13, 2005 04:14 PM

That is so well said. It made me angry in the Vietnam era when the troops were treated so badly and they fought and died for the same freedoms. Million died because we pulled out then and the troops were not welcomed when they came home, that is the stain on our history, not the war, but how ugly the troops were treated. God bless them all.

Posted by: Ruth H at November 13, 2005 05:33 PM

Okay, so I have started reading this but I am crying too much to finish . . . will have to give me a day or two to read the entire post . . .

Posted by: Heidi at November 14, 2005 03:59 AM

Growth, maturity, wisdom....all come at a cost. Sometimes the cost is high. God bless.

Posted by: Pamela at November 14, 2005 06:43 PM


Great posting, as usual. But one thing to note, however, is that the majority of this country is not committed to sacrificing their sons and daughters to free people in distant lands. Haven't been for the past 30 years or so.

In theory, most would say yes, but when push comes to shove, we're not.

We have elections every two years, electing a new executive every four. Our policy in Iraq in February of 2007 could be "cut and run", if trends continue. The president may want to keep people there, but like in Vietnam, Congress needs only to cut off the money and today's defeated enemy can become tomorrows victor.

This nation is committed to our own freedom, I'm quite sure. But we are NOT committed to anyone else's. We probably should be, but barring a massive cultural revolution, we're not.

Posted by: Sean at November 15, 2005 12:26 AM


I have no words that are able to express what I feel in my heart so I'll just say Thank You and hope you know what it is I'm trying to convey.


thank you for an excellent post.

Posted by: Tink at November 15, 2005 09:59 PM

Thank you, Sarah. You could not have said it more perfectly.
It was hard to know what to say to someone you only in passing and a few Friday night dinners. My thoughts are with Heidi and Colin all the time. I am sending her this note through your post. I hope she reads it.

Posted by: Jennifer at November 16, 2005 06:14 PM


I thank you for loving the military men in your lives. I thank you for shouldering the burdens of a life so difficult in nature, so lonely in its lingering moments, so unappreciated by so many, yet so wonderful and delightful at its best. You deserve so much more than our country will ever give you. Your husbands must recognize how much you did for them and your families and how much they needed your support.

And for Mrs. Sims, you must recognize that what you have lost can never be replaced by your country, but in its place, please accept our undying affection and love for you and his children, as befits a brave man who served his country and was lost to her and to you.

We will never be able to adequately explain how much we needed your husband. In fact we needed him so much, that we had to take him from you, not on our design, but because of his choice to offer himself to us. I pray the Lord will ease your grief in time, and bring you happiness and solace once again, as soon as you can bear it. America is grateful, even when you don't hear it from the public voices of the press.

God bless you both, ladies, and all the ladies who choose to marry a warrior, for better or worse. For surely, there is no one who deserves the Love and Honors of America than one who has given her best Love to her country's service and survival. Thank you, both.

We shall honor them all. Press on to Victory.


Posted by: Subsunk at November 18, 2005 06:36 AM

Wow.. I was just about to delete your blog from my links as I have no idea what it's doing there.. but I happened to see this picture.

Patrick went to my high school.. and my roommate as well as a great deal of my friends and teachers attended his funeral.

I am very sorry for Heidi's loss. I know that there are a great deal of people who miss him. I have heard nothing but amazing things about him.. and how it never should have been him. He was too good of a guy to go and we needed him here desperately.

It's a small world in the military. You never know who you'll come across or meet. I didn't know Sean, but I know that SAHSians everywhere were notified of his death and that there was an outpouring of sympathy, sadness, and condolences. I couldn't attend as I had my own training, but I did take an hour to honor him on the day of his funeral.

We never take it likely when a miltary dependant school kid makes the ultimate sacrifice for their country. There aren't words enough... Just know that there were thousands of Sahsians praying for you and your family Heidi... and he is still thought of today.. by those who adored him.


Posted by: Army Girl at November 19, 2005 10:16 PM