Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Letter to the Editor

Last semester I had to write a letter to the editor for my English 2010 class. I chose to write it on military support. I posted a link to it on facebook, but since my last post I've had several requests to put the letter on here as well. Here's a link, as well as a copy of what it said. Enjoy!


It has now officially been three months since my older brother returned from Afghanistan where he served a yearlong deployment with the United States Marine Corps.

After having my own flesh and blood serve two honorable deployments, freedom means more to me than I ever imagined it could. Unfortunately, my brother's company lost two fine young men in the service of our country. I find it nearly impossible to hold back the tears during every national anthem, every parade, and every flag ceremony.

I recently attended a football game in which a beautiful arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed. My mind whirling with emotions, I reflected on the last year. What it was like to pray each night that somehow my brother would be spared.

I found myself reproducing images of those two humbling funerals, where miles of sidewalks were lined with Boy Scouts holding flags, two mothers grasping a flag that had been laid over their sons' caskets, and seven Marines firing their weapons in their honor followed by taps. Tears flowing down my face, I looked around at the crowd to find a sight that made my stomach turn and my knees shake.

I looked behind me to find a man talking on his cell phone, completely oblivious to what was around him. A girl to the right of me was texting. A young man stood in front of me who was looking in the complete opposite direction, his hand now sunk to his stomach from lack of attention.

A sight like this was heartbreaking. After seeing what others have sacrificed for us, I have concluded that this country really doesn't ask much of us. We have been blessed to have beautiful homes, places to worship whatever religion we please, and opportunities beyond that of any other nation. Is putting one's hand over their heart, looking at a flag, and reflecting on our freedom so much to ask for? Are we completely ignorant of the thousands who are fighting for us this very second?

Next time you see the American flag or hear the Pledge of Allegiance, I hope you reflect on these thoughts. Your very own neighbors are lying awake at night with the thought of their loved ones not returning. I know my brother's sacrifice was not in vain, but I hope that somewhere out there people are willing to display their gratitude.

Rebecca Chesley

Central Valley

Friday, March 4, 2011

In Loving Memory...

Lcpl. Carlos Aragon
Lcpl. Nigel Olsen

On March 1, 2010 Lcpl. Carlos Aragon of the United States Marine Corps was killed in combat serving in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Three days later, Lcpl. Nigel Olsen also gave his life for this country. These two Marines served with my brother during their deployment to Afghanistan. As today marks one year since their deaths, my heart is heavy with thoughts of their great sacrifice and courage. Attending the funerals of these two heroes was a life-altering and most humbling experience for myself and all who were in attendence. Throughout the day, my mind has been clouded with memories of last year and the great trials that come with not only having a family members deployed, but also witnessing the emotions that come with losing a loved one in such a respect.

To these two young men, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will forever remember the lessons I learned from you and the sacrifices you have made. To their families, the Marines, all of our armed forces, and their families. Thank you. Your service doesn't go unnoticed.

And to my beloved brother: you are my hero. I love you forever and always. Not a day goes by where I don't think of how grateful I am to still have you in my life and to have you home. Thank you for your service, I look up to you more than words will ever be able to express.

Here are a few of the things that have been on my mind today:
  • Taking family pictures, wondering if it would be the last.
  • Having Thanksgiving dinner two months early, pretending it would some how make up for the one to come.
  • Jake saying "I love you, Bec. I'll see you soon ok? Don't worry."
  • The day he left for Afghanistan. I cried every day for a week.
  • Running away to the temple to pray that somehow things would be okay.
  • Break downs triggered by words as simple as "America" or "Freedom"
  • Watching military support videos to find some source of knowing someone understood.
  • Being offended when people didn't include the military into every prayer.
  • Having no patience for any kind of complaining knowing he was without a shower, safety, or sleep.
  • Feeling so grateful that my roommates would include them in their prayers every night.
  • The frustration of feeling that everyone was so ungrateful.
  • My heart skipping a beat every time I saw he was on facebook.
  • Talking to him on Christmas day, knowing he was miserable.
  • Praying every single night that somehow he would just be spared.
  • Watching "Taking Chance" and losing composure within the first five minutes.
  • Attending two funerals of Marines only 2 years older than me.
  • Driving to a church surrounded by The Patriot Guard and with hundred of flags.
  • Stopping half a block away from the church, sobbing, and praying I would somehow survive the next few hours.
  • Receiving hugs from the family members of these two great heroes as we solemnly passed by their caskets.
  • Seeing miles and miles lined with Boy Scouts holding flags and saluting.
  • Watching the 21 gun salute and hearing Taps, gaining a whole new insight on the rituals.
  • Being enclosed in a circle formed by The Patriot Guard with a hundred other people who were now beginning to understand the real definition of "Hero".
  • Watching two mothers receive the flags that had been draped over their son's graves.
  • Realizing at this funeral that my family could have the same experience at any given moment.
  • Associating with Marines who were home on injury leave that knew my brother.
  • Gaining whole knew insights to the songs "God Be With You Til We Meet Again" and "Abide With Me;Tis Eventide".
  • Not being able to even look at the Marines at the funeral without sobbing out of jealousy that they were home.
  • Watching Marine homecoming videos two months before he came home.
  • Going to the base to make signs for their homecoming with other Marine wives, mothers, and sisters.
  • Watching him get off that bus, with the most complete feeling of peace and relief that one could ever experience.
Although going through two deployments has definitely opened my eyes to the world of patriotism and gratitude for our country, these experiences are not required to feel that gratitude. I hope that not an opportunity passes for you to thank our military, pay tribute to our flag, or thank Heavenly Father for our freedom and great land.

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
-John Stuart Mill

Also, here is a link to the video that was put together for these two Marines: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-2sTYNSwDM