For those of us in the military community, we are used to seeing the pictures – those stern faced young men and women in uniform posed in front of a flag, the ones that are released by DoD or the Guard Bureau when the names of the fallen are released. We think – how young. Or – what a sweet face. And we mourn. We look at the same picture on our own walls, and send a silent “thank you” that it wasn’t our child, wasn’t our husband or wife.
The pictures that hurt even more are those that are attached to the heartbreaking stories that we read from the family members. A little boy wrote a letter to CNN about his daddy, who was the pilot of the Chinook that was shot down last Saturday. He wanted us all to know his dad, because all everyone was talking about were the SEALS on that flight; he wanted us to know that he loved his dad, and was proud of him.
The picture that Braydon Nichols sent was one that so many of us could have on our walls, a bunch of guys in uniform sitting together… his daddy is the one on the far left.
What many civilians don’t understand – we usually already have the picture picked out. After all, during deployment many spouses admit they have planned their spouse’s funeral – the music, the pictures… We hope we never need to use it, never need to put that plan into motion. And when we see those other pictures, we say “that could be us”. That could be our family.
For Braydon, for the other sons and daughters, for the wives, mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, aunts and uncles of those who died, we can only send our condolences and our heartfelt thanks for their service. There have been 19 other casualties since August 1st. To their families, we send our gratitude and condolences.
We’ll look at those pictures, we’ll think of those families. Every day. Because to us, they are family. Because to us, they remind us of ourselves.