Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day 2006

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers.

For this family and many others like us, Memorial Day will never again be just another day to play golf or to sleep late.

This time last year, we were learning lessons about sacrifice as did other military families before us. Only ours was more immediate.

We weren't waiting to receive handwritten letters. (Thank goodness! I think I got TWO all year!) We strained to hear the ding of Yahoo Instant Messenger. We huddled over our computers hoping for an email, or at least a new post from Kevin Kelly. We scanned family message boards, grateful to share good news.

Sometimes, silence was deadly.

Whenever communications were cut off, we held our breath--knowing in all probability, one of our soldiers would not be coming home alive. Like some horrible lottery, we waited with other mothers, wives and girlfriends, wondering who would get the one phone call or visit they dreaded most. This morning, I'm particularly sensitive to the pain of those families in our brigade who lost a loved one.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us Freedom of the Press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us Freedom of Speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us the Freedom to demonstrate.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer,
Who has given us the right to a fair trial;

And it is the Soldier--who salutes the flag,
Who serves the flag, and
Whose coffin is draped by the flag--
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

By Charles M. Province
To all our men and women serving or who have served in the Armed Forces, and to those families who have endured hardship for the cause of Freedom, thank you.

"Now the Lord is that Spirit:
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is liberty."
1 Corinthians 3:17
God bless you all.