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Lest we forget

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Col.) Walter "Bubba" Smith
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Chapel
We all are guilty of doing it and some are guilty of doing it on a regular basis. We forget. I saw it yesterday during the warning of an incoming direct fire attack. Some of our troops forgot to heed the warning to take cover. And how many of us during this deployment have forgotten a birthday or a wedding anniversary or a Common Access Card? Unfortunately when we forget, we trivialize the event and minimize its importance.

Forgetting is nothing new to us and it is as old as civilization. In the book of Deuteronomy we find Moses reminding the Israelites of all the things God had done for them. He had given them cities they did not build, houses full of good things which they did not have to work for, deep wells with fresh water which they did not have to dig. Then comes the warning not to forget what God had done for them.

In spite of the stresses of our deployment, we too often forget how fortunate we are. You see, we are living in containerized housing units we did not build, eating dining facility food which we did not have to prepare, drinking water which we did not have to purify and receiving benefits that the rest of the world only dreams about. Like the Israelites, we too should take stock of our inventory and not forget how blessed we really are.

At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, there is a long black marble wall with the names of those killed in the war. Every day people come to remember their friends, family and loved ones. Writer Don Moser says that often they leave tokens of their remembrance: flags, letters, pieces of clothing and photos. Volunteers collect these tokens and story them at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection. "Offerings at the Wall" is a book written that preserves the pictures of these mementoes. One man left his dog tags, a headband and a letter that read, "To all of you here from Echo Company, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division ... I leave you my headband which contains my sweat from the war, my dog tag, and a picture of me and Mike. Another time, another place. I'll never forget you."

Written on one flag was this message, "May all of you who died for me before I was born, all of you who are still missing and all of you who never returned home, never be forgotten. - Connie"

In a couple of weeks we will honor the events of Sept. 11, 2001. We will also remember those who lost their lives in that fateful attack and we will honor all who have paid the ultimate price to ensure that events like 9/11 never happen again. Like other wars in years past, memory of the event fades with time and preoccupation. My hope and prayer is that on 9/11/11 we will take time to remember our brothers and sisters who have bravely fought the fight and endured the sacrifices that we might be able to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.