War brings suffering. War brings death. All sides vie for the right to the word victim. I accept that I am helpless to do otherwise about any of that.
I also am who I am, where I am, doing only what I am able. For those in the Middle East who have died, who have lost everyone, everything: I remember you. I ask that those near you do what they can to comfort you, somehow to restore to you whatever can be restored, to mourn with you whomever, whatever must be mourned. May those already there help you. May those who will come help you.
Each day, I myself sit with men and women from my own nation. Most are of an age that they could be my sons and daughters. I have yet to meet one who desired the violence of war; who glorified one iota of it; who did not, in some important way, wish that none of it would have happened; who did, though, believe in those who walked the streets, patrolled the air and seas with him or her–who, in a way only those in the military can understand, loved those men and women to a depth that they had never imagined possible. They believed that they were doing what they could to make the world better, even when knowing that “better” could easily–and, yes, did–involve unimaginable pain, often for those who deserved it least.
It is in honor of those men and women I sit with, in honor of the love that clutches them still in the most unexpected of moments, a song, a TV snippet, a dream, a nightmare–in their honor I remember four men of the Indiana National Guard who died last week in Afghanistan:
1). Staff Sgt. Jonathan Metzger, 32, Indianapolis
2). Spc. Brian Leonhardt, 21, Merrillville IN
3). Spc. Robert Tauteris, 44, Hamlet IN (northern Indiana, west of Plymouth)
4). Spc. Christopher Patterson, 20, Aurora IL
In honor of my Uncle Raymond, who died over France almost seventy years ago, and in honor of my Grandfather Raymond and my Grandmother Irene, neither of whom ever fully recovered from his loss, I remember the families and friends of each of these men. Even though the memories of each survivor will almost certainly always be filled with some pain, may those same memories, in their time, be filled, or better, continue to be filled with the deepest, the most warmth-rendering of meaning as well.
I remember–and hope for–Pvt. Doug Rachowicz of Hammond, the sole-surviving comrade, as well as those who love him dearly. May there be hope and a future, for each of you.
In memoriam is Latin not for “in memory,” but rather for “into memory.” May each of us place into memory each of these men. And may those who are no longer with us remain in memoria–in our memory–always.
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