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."