Five years ten days ago
you were on your way home from war when your Chinook Helicopter was shot down.
Five years nine days ago
I received the news with an innocently answered phone call in the middle of the produce aisle.
Five years eight days ago
your picture and story were plastered on the TV and newspapers as the first soldier killed from our state in the Iraq war.
Five years six days ago
we traveled in stunned sorrow to meet with family and await your arrival home, still answering calls for interviews… How do you feel?
Five years four days ago
your family, the color guard, and funeral officers met your flag-draped casket (they said it was you…well, most of you) on the tarmac in the darkest of nights.
Five years three days ago
we viewed your casket with your Calvary hat and favorite sports caps arranged on top…no one was allowed to see inside.
Five years two days ago
that small mortuary was so full of mourners that some had to stand outside.
We released yellow balloons in your honor.
At some time, your Husker hat was placed in the coffin with you (we heard it wasn’t possible to put it on your head but I try not to think about that).
Five years ago today
a small little town packed a church for your “home town” funeral.
The town’s flags were at half-mast.
Young children playing along the street stopped as the hearse drove by and saluted the entire procession.
I jumped at each round of the salute.
A chill went through me when the single trumpet played “Taps.”
We buried you beside your grandfather.
Five years ago
I met your friends and fellow soldiers.
They told me of the man you became and of the respect and love they had for you.
I will no longer grieve or dwell (well, at least I’ll try).
But I will always remember that gawky “kid” that grew up to be a soldier.
I took off the remembrance band I’ve been constantly wearing for all of these years in your honor:
Remembering my cousin on this dark anniversary.
Critique is welcome (and encouraged)! It just doesn’t feel … well, it doesn’t fell like I did the piece (or maybe my cousin) justice.
Thank you to all who have, do, and will serve.