The First Team remembers their dead…

I have questions and no answers. This seems to be my lot in life. My heart is sore from trying, why must everything require such immense effort? Last night has been difficult. The First Cavalry Division decided to honor the sacrifice of veterans that served with the First Team during Operation Iraqi Freedom. My friends were shown and while it is very nice of the staff at Fort Hood to recognize them, it is very difficult for me to relive their deaths. Time doesn’t heal anything.

It seems like yesterday that we were all laughing and poking fun at each other. We were willing to take on the world, and make it give us what we wanted from it. Eager for battle, ready to be tested in the ultimate contest of wills and marksmanship, we had no idea what we were asking for. Everything was a joke until we stood in the desert and realized that we were all each other had. For us that was enough. It all went wrong quicker than we wanted it to.

Death is part of life, it is no respecter of occupation, status, or name. We all have an appointment with the Reaper. War is fraught with opportunities to die for your country. Unfortunately, people die. I grieve the loss of my friends even now, 14 years after the fact. In vivid detail, I can remember every emotion that I felt when I was confronted with their deaths. Tonight, will be sleepless. There is no doubt that I will dream of war. It should come as no surprise that I hate this holiday.

Decay.

A state of decay seems to be an adequate description of where I am at in my life. This applies both physically and emotionally. I suppose it is part of growing as a person. My body aches, but I am in good health (right up to the moment that I’m not). Emotionally, it’s the same cluster, different day. I have overextended my investment in a few things, and pain lies right around the corner. However, there is nothing that I can do about it but suck it up and drive on. Spiritually, I am right as rain. I press toward the mark.

Decay brings loss. Sometimes to grow we must trim things out of our lives that hinder us from moving forward. It’s not always people. Generally, it is however, I have found that sometimes it is things that keep me from growing as a person. Loss is part of living. It is a crappy part of living, but with no loss there is no appreciation. If you think that I am wrong, then please explain to me why so many artists are not appreciated until their death. Loss often increases the value of said person and their contributions. It is a sad fact of life.

I guess we will see what the future holds.

Freeman out.

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.

The dreaded sound of silence.

What do I remember the most about combat? The silence when the fighting was over. To me, it was unsettling. This supernatural, mystical, quiet that shrouded the area. In many ways it seemed like a test to see if we realized what we had done. I can’t speak for everyone, but to me it was this queer feeling that some unearthly homage was being paid for our victory. When the killing was done, the stains of bloodshed seeped into my soul.

Psalms 51:7 reads, “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”

I am in the library this morning, and the silence here reminds me of Iraq. Who am I kidding? The past two months have reminded me of my time in the sandbox. There are days when I wonder if I will ever be clean of what we did in that godforsaken country. Will I ever be able to close my eyes and not see the broken bodies? I don’t know, but I am thankful that only one of them can speak in my dreams. All he ever asks is “Why?” I don’t know why, nor do I have any interest in finding out why. I just want peace. If I must become a hermit to get peace, then I will slip away into the shadows and become a memory.

My friends that died there deserved better. I am sure that those on the other side that died for their beliefs deserved better to. There are no winners.

In the end, life is a game. There are no benchwarmers. We came, we saw, we damaged ourselves.

God help us.

A random collection of thoughts about love.

Love sucks. It is no secret that having a successful relationship involves a dedication to your partner that is beyond comprehension. No one partner should have to do all the work. The greatest lie of all time is this: There is someone for everyone!  Is there any truth to this? Some people succeed at love, others fail, and others are too scarred to try again. This is the truth about love.  I am a huge fan of love, romance and all the gooey parts of it. The sad truth is that I suck at it.

At church the other morning, I was considering my lack of success in this realm. “Eight years of failure!” I cried out during prayer. It was in the quietest moment when this thought stuck out to me: All it takes is getting it right one time to make up for the years that the locusts have taken. I was blown away. At church it seems that this one point gets hit over and over: “Just make it one more day. Keep being faithful, keep walking with the Lord, make it one more day.” When I walked through my period of darkness, I learned that making it one day at a time required me to make one step at a time. Progress is often slow, but if you keep moving forward you will come through your storm.

Maybe love doesn’t suck after all. Perhaps, it just requires us to change our perspective so that we can see that love is a full-time job but it is not without its rewards. Is there someone for everybody? I have my doubts. However, if there is then we should all take hope that one day love will find its way to us.  

                                                                                                                        Until next time,

SGT Larry Freeman

                                                                                                                        

Memorial Day weekend….

Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Enjoy your BBQ, but don’t forget to remember those who gave their lives in defense of this country.

Garry Owen

1/7 CAV

Fiddlers Green

Halfway down the trail to hell,

In a shady meadow green,

Are the souls of all dead troopers camped,

Near a good ole time canteen,

And this eternal resting place,

Is known as Fiddlers Green.

Marching straight through to hell,

The infantry is seen,

Accompanied by the Engineers,

Artillery and Marines,

For none but the shade of Cavalrymen,

Dismount at Fiddlers Green.

Though some go curving down the trail,

To seek a warmer scene,

No trooper ever gets to Hell,

Ere he’s emptied his canteen,

And so, rides back to drink again.

With friends at Fiddlers Green.

And so, when man and horse goes down,

Beneath a saber keen,

Or in a roaring charge of fierce melee,

You stop a bullet clean,

And the hostiles come to take your scalp,

Just empty your canteen,

And put your pistol to your head,

And go to Fiddlers Green.

Get up!

Life sucks. Period. I have torn my groin muscle along with a couple of fractured ribs. That is my official diagnosis. It hurts to breathe, laugh, sneeze, or even exist. Throughout my life, I have had broken ribs, so I know what they feel like. Percocet is knocking the pain off for a bit, but it is a temporary fix. I haven’t slept well. Life sucks.

The day must go on. Regardless of the pain, no matter how bad your dreams are crushed, you can’t lie in the dirt and sob about it. Embrace the suck, use it to channel your inner fuel and push yourself harder than you did the last time you were knocked down. Wipe the blood from your lips and grin at whatever just punched you in the teeth. Pain is the way of the warrior.

Even the Bible offers words about embracing the suck. The book of Psalms says this: Rejoice not against me oh mine enemies for when I fall, I shall arise. If life has kicked you in the teeth, get up. Victory starts with getting up, purpose that you will not be defeated by whatever has you down at the moment and suck it up. Yes, life sucks but victory is for those who get up one more time.

Freeman