Memorial Day is typically an emotionally charge time of year for many who have served in our armed forces. However, I never thought I would be experiencing an emotional one like I am this year.
Memorial Day is a time when we remember those we have served and made the ultimate sacrifice. Many who serve leave their homes and never return; those killed in action or injured by the enemy are awarded a ‘Purple Heart.’ I count my blessings every day that both my deployments I made it home, and I will never forget those who will never take off their uniform.
On February 13, 2012, while on a mission in Afghanistan, my vehicle was struck by a 250-300lb explosive that went off directly under my seat, causing my vehicle to roll onto my side of the vehicle, leaving me with physical and mental wounds of war. From Afghanistan to Germany and then back to the states to Fort Belvoir Community Hospital for medical treatment. While undergoing treatment and surrounded by wounded warriors, I found myself constantly reminded of the cost of our freedom and some of the sacrifices made by our brave men and women who serve.
After nine years since I got wounded in Afghanistan, I opened up some mail yesterday to the surprised of recently being awarded the Purple Heart. To be honest, I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster ever since. Almost wanting to cancel my entire day yesterday cause I was overwhelmed with emotions. I didn’t know if I could get control of my emotions. However, I tamed my emotions and attended the Haverhill Exchange Club ceremony for their Hometown Hero Banner program. But it was not long into the ceremony that I found myself yet again losing control of my emotions and slipped out of the ceremony early.
With what the Purple Heart symbolizes, knowing that many who have been awarded the Purple Heart cannot always be presented the award directly as it can come at a must bigger cost, which that price and the sacrifices many have made are heavily on my mind this Memorial Day.
I hesitated to share this news, but after being up all night, I decided to share it as a reminder that it became for me yesterday during the ceremony. Although my Purple Heart came nine years later, many have been issued and never able to have been presented to the veteran; but given to their family.
I can never truly express how blessed and fortunate I feel to make it out of the battlefield, but I will never forget the horror of war and the sacrifices I’ve seen and heard others make.
Now I start my day today by attending a funeral and saying goodbye to a fellow veteran I have come to know over the years who recently passed away. After that, I am taking the rest of the weekend off may likely stay low-key as I go through my emotions between the heaviest of the work I do – recently a suicide attempt by one, loss of another, and the reminder I got yesterday that our freedom is not free.
An estimated 430,000 Purple Hearts have been awarded posthumously. I hope this image serves as a remember this weekend of the sacrifices our veterans made who are no longer with us. I’m one of the few who got award this medal while I’m alive, even if it was nine years later. Over 400,000 veterans were never able to receive their Purple Heart directly, and together, as a nation, let’s never forget their service and their sacrifice. But not just on Memorial Day, but every day…