Today is the one day out of 365 each year we set aside as a country to say what we should be saying daily: THANK YOU, VETERANS.
And thank you especially to the families of those veterans who go through each day with a big hole in their lives where their loved ones should be.
If you've not seen it yet, please take an hour or so and watch the HBO special called "Taking Chance." On the barest surface, it's the tale of a disenfranchised Lt. Col. Michale Strobl, USMC (Kevin Bacon) who volunteers to escort the body of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps to his hometown in Wyoming. What quickly becomes apparent, though, is that this movie takes us places we've never seen: the seamstresses who make one last uniform in which Lance Corporal Phelps will be buried; the airports as his body is transferred from plane to plane; along a lonely road where every semi and car slows down for the military procession and turns on their headlights. Throughout it all, we learn more about Chance Phelps and see changes in Lt. Col. Strobl that give us heart.
It was a sobering movie, for sure, but I took away such an old fashioned feeling of patriotism that I had to think for a moment about what that feeling was. This soldier - one of thousands who've died in the Middle East - was not forgotten. His sacrifice and that of his family was not anonymous. In addition to the irreplaceable loss of this young man, I saw just how many people took care of this soldier on his final journey home. The chaplains to the pilots to the airport baggage handlers - every single person honored this young man with the respect I would hope for if this were my son.
See this movie. Do it for a veteran. I take that back- do it for yourself. No matter your take on this war or the politics involved, this movie will touch you.
To Mark and Rebecca Baker in Painesville, Ohio, parents of Lance Corporal David R. Baker USMC, age 22, who died October 21, 2009 in Afghanistan: there are no words for your sorrow. We keep you in our thoughts and our prayers always.