A walk through a garden of thorns…

I am hanging with the dead. This is nothing new. Friends from combat, and enemy combatants come by from time to time to visit. Their injuries are still fresh even after a decade has passed. As I cut my grass, I ponder why my mind plays back these memories. “Is this real life or is it just fantasy? I see a silhouette of a man…”

My friends are gone. They were taken well before they should have been. So many paid the price, often in the most horrifying of ways, for the freedom that is taken for granted by today’s Americans or whatever they prefer to be called. Cemeteries are full of broken bodies of soldiers who lived and died so that others may enjoy the “American dream.”

When I came home from war, especially after 2007-2008, I could not believe the state of my country. This thought often crosses my mind: Would my friends that died for this country be pleased with its current condition? Would they think that this crop of Americans are worth keeping free or was their death in vain? I know where I personally stand, but perhaps, it is better unanswered.

As I cut my yard, my mind drifts from time spent with them. The laughter, the tears, and the times that we celebrated making our next rank or the birth of a child. These times live on in my mind as well. My tears flow freely as I sling grass into my flower beds. There is an emptiness in my heart which may never be filled because of their loss. I would gladly give all I own for one more hour with them.

Drenched with sweat, my yard finally cut, I walk into my house and my mind drifts back to our first days in country. We slept five grown men to a room. There was no room for bed; our gear was stacked in the corner. For a mattress, we would sleep on our duffel bags that were full of warfighting gear. Our gas masks served as our pillow, but the conversations that we had were priceless. It was the best of times and the worst of times, but I am better for it.

I am humbled by their sacrifice. It’s my turn to be an American worth keeping free.

Garry Owen! 1/7 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division.

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