Five Years

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:


Currently unavailable for purchase

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.


iraq, flag, memorial, soldier, daniel, army, military, five, years, funeral, dan, killed, veteran, cavalry, ssg, bader, nebraksa


  • pixie3
    pixie3over 5 years ago

    WOW!!!! That was very deep :)

  • pixie3
    pixie3over 5 years ago

    Oh btw very well written!!

  • Thanks so much, pixie3!
    I wrote it late last night (when I took off the wristband…I feel naked today) and I wasn’t even sure I should post it.

    – dolphinkist

  • ufosIsee
    ufosIseeover 5 years ago

    Being a VET myself this is trully heart felt…. I salute him and you. Well written.

  • Thank you, ufosIsee. I am glad that, as a vet, you found this important. The words I used just don’t seem to do justice for Dan or for any of our vets.
    Thanks for your service.

    – dolphinkist

  • sleepyeyedrar
    sleepyeyedrarover 5 years ago

    My heart weeps for you and this family that has lost due to war. I stand erect and salute your son, for the sacrifice of his life for another. I too lost a son, not due to war and I know how difficult it is to lose a child. I find comfort in a website I will bmail it to you….

  • sleepyeyedrar, thank you for the website (and it’s okay…I should have put “cousin” somwhere in the writing itself, but I guess the relation doesn’t matter).
    I am sorry for the losses you have endured and am glad you have found that outlet.

    – dolphinkist

  • Craig Forhan
    Craig Forhanover 5 years ago

    I still have goose bumps from reading this. I’m a vet too and this just hits home. I hope you and your family will be able to mend what you can and make the best out of his sacrifice. Thank you for posting this, I know writing is something that shows the soul more than any other piece of art.

    1/3 ACR used to be and I believe still is stationed at Ft Carson Colorado, my birthplace and current hometown.

  • Craig: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I feel this piece is so unemotional because it doesn’t compare to what I feel and I was afraid it wasn’t worthy of the sacrifices made by our troops. The fact that it had some sort of impact on you makes me feel so much better…for people like you and for Dan.

    And, yes, 1/3 ACR is still in Ft. Carson. My cousin was originally from Nebraska (where I still lived), but moved to Colorado Springs while still in school. He always wanted to be in the military.

    Thanks for your service, too!

    – dolphinkist

  • Mardra
    Mardraover 5 years ago

    Well done Kelly. This is a worthy memorial. I cry with you as I read it.
    “Write hard about what hurts” – eh? Hemmingway was right afterall – you have done justice to what is felt, what is written, and what is real. I can’t say enough, well deserved feature and the exposure does justice to all of those who have felt what you feel. Much, much Love, Mardra

  • Mardra…you made me cry back (reminded me of the Husker game we went to when they honored the fallen).
    Your support and the beautiful things you have said are…well, more important than you’ll ever know.

    – dolphinkist

  • Tricia Holmes
    Tricia Holmesover 5 years ago

    What a beautifully written prose poem. WOW! so much pathos and I can feel your loss, but also that after 5 years, you are ready to stop grieving and remember who he was…the son in your home.
    Beautiful…please keep writing.

  • Thank you, Tricia. I hadn’t written in so long and my first attempt on another project the other night was SO bad that I’m surprised I even attempted this. I couldn’t let the five-year anniversary or the removal of my bracelet go by without something to mark it.
    Thanks for your encouragement.

    – dolphinkist

  • Tricia Holmes
    Tricia Holmesover 5 years ago

    oops so sorry…your cousin…

  • grarbaleg
    grarbalegover 5 years ago

    From my family to yours we send u an abundance of everything that has been scarce for five years and 10 days may serenity settle in your heart and the light of your cousin bath you in the glory of whom he was so emotive thank you for sharing

  • grarbaleg, thank you so much for your beautifully written condolences. I have always been surprised by how intensely this has affected me.

    – dolphinkist

  • StefanNicholson
    StefanNicholsonover 5 years ago

    Changed by war, lost in distance, missed forever . . . but captured and preserved for us all to appreciate. A truly fine piece of writing.

  • Stefan, thank you! I am so glad you liked it. And I thank you for the wonderfully written and profound comment! (I need you to write comments on my back cover if I ever write a book!)

    – dolphinkist

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