The prompt for this week was “line it up” and this being Memorial Day, I thought what better than to show a bunch of soldiers lined up, doing what they do best…protecting our freedom. I knew that I wanted to find a touching photo online, perhaps a somber looking sunset with a flag at half mast while the silhouette’s of soldiers lined the bottom of the photo. But, as I was perusing Google Images for ideas, I saw this photo. I tried to find out who the original photographer was, but to no avail. This, for me, was a beautiful way to endorse the prompt, salute Memorial Day and remind everyone that at the very basest level of any soldier is their heart. Their ferocious, lion strong heart. They are brave, true enough, but they are also tender, putting their job above their personal needs, the needs of their family and friends and above all, their own lives.
In my life, I personally have not been effected by the loss of a soldiers life, but a friend of mine lost her beloved husband last year, a mere two weeks after turning 30 years old. He was a baby. A child himself, practically, with four little ones of his own. Beautiful little ones, the oldest who may some day have faint, distant memories of his daddy…and the youngest, barely old enough to ever remember what her father looked like.
This is Sgt. Keith Adam Coe. He was the beloved husband of my friend Trina, a girl I have known since she was barely out of high school herself. I had not heard from Trina in years, though my best friend was still in touch with her here and there over the years. Last year, my bestie told me that Trina lost her husband, Keith in Iraq. He was killed in action. I tracked Trina down on Facebook. We talked. We shared photos of Keith and her children and, we cried. Keith was killed by a roadside explosion in Northern Iraq on April 27th, 2010. He was a dedicated and loving husband and father by all accounts. My heart broke having to hear my friend of over a decade relay the pain and anxiety she was now feeling with this loss. Scarcely thirty years old herself, she now finds herself widowed…the ultimate sacrifice of war.
I think about Keith and his friends, the fact that Keith did indeed die a hero while rescuing a friend. It makes me both mournful and prideful. He died doing what he loved and a job he was proud of. He gave his all to protect his country, our liberties and our freedoms. I find myself realizing, as I get older, that Memorial Day is more than beers and backyard barbecues. It is about the men and women of the military giving the ultimate all to provide for their families and protect this country. No matter what your politics are, no matter what side of the war fence you sit on, it is so important that you support these men and women who are merely doing their job. You may not like the fact that we are at war. I sure as hell don’t, but I am not naive enough to believe that every soldier fighting in that war believes that they should be there fighting it either. However, they have a job to do, no different than any of us. They do their job even if they don’t necessarily agree with the politics behind it. They do what needs to be done, sometimes at the expense of their own personal values. There is honor in that.
On this day, for this F52 project prompt of “Line It Up”, I choose to line up a group of soldiers in the shape of a heart and hope that Keith Adam Coe knows how much he was loved and is missed by his family every single day. I truly hope to never have to hear that any of my friends have lost their spouse to this war ever again. It hurts me, unbearably to the core, to know that Trina’s little ones will be growing up without their father. But, if I know Trina as I do, she will make sure that their daddy is incorporated into their lives. She will do fun things with them to honor him. She will keep photos available to her babies and, as they get older, she will share the more intimate details about their father with them. And, they will grow up to admire their father for his ultimate sacrifice, for his giving, loving heart and for being so very brave.
God bless you and rest you well, Keith Adam Coe. And to all the spouses, significant others and children of the men and women who serve so diligently…God bless all of you as well. May your loved ones stay safe always. May they always be protected, loved and most of all, supported by their fellow Americans.
Happy Memorial Day to all who have served. And please, if you come across a soldier in your travels today, offer him a handshake and a thank you for a job well done. It is the very least we can do for those who make incredible sacrifices so that we may enjoy our freedom.