My time with these young men was a capstone to my military service and one of the most special experiences I had in the Army. Amongst a platoon of focused, young leaders, Brian was always one of the platoon mates who would tarry the longest, ask the last questions, gather the last pearls of wisdom from my training partner, Bryan Hart, and me. Only Brian would crack that last joke to cut the atmosphere. He would exhaust me with questions and I loved every minute of it. I just loved that guy.
Love brings us back. Back to the start, back to today. The smiles we see in the dark. The little chuckles and moments we carry to the end. More names pour out in the silence for me: Damian Ficek, Steve Langmack, Ed Homeyer, Ricardo Barrazza. Men I served with and respected. These names, these people, and the thousands of others will not be lost in my heart.
Today is Memorial Day. A Day to remember and for those of us able, a day to live. Perhaps a day to hike with the family, visit with our neighbors, reconnect with old buddies and remember. Hopefully, we remember with a smile, but I respect that some may do so with the bitter sting of a loss on such a deeply personal level that Gold Star Mother, Scoti Domeij captures in “Dreading Memorial Day”. I simply cannot imagine the loss of a child or a spouse. I also respect that Memorial Day may hold a completely different kind of sting to those who bear the pain of such traumatic loss experienced before their very eyes. Memories of loss seen under violent circumstances.
My heart is with you. Truly.
Wherever you are today, however you remember, please do not remember alone. Call a friend, call your family, or a neighbor. Draw close to someone who loves you, please. If you feel the weight of your loss today in such a way that is so heavy, so profound that it chokes out the love that our brothers and sisters displayed in their sacrifice, please call one of the resources below.
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
“One for the Airborne Ranger in the Sky”
Brandon Young is a former U.S. Army Ranger and the Co-Founder of Applied Leadership Partners.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal May 29, 2017