On my way into work this morning I heard something that moved me….moved me to anger and then tears. The story though begins last week. Last week in Afghanistan one of Georgia’s own Lance Cpl. Scott Harper was killed in action. Yesterday he was honored in a procession as he was brought home to rest – thousands of people came out to honor his homecoming. This all seems pretty simple right? You can choose whether to come out or not it’s not a requirement. Scott Harper as I understand it always wanted to be a soldier and he passionately made the choice to go out and fight for us.
On the radio this morning, I learned that there are protester groups who are planning to stage a protest today at his funeral. This news prompted lots of callers and conversation on the radio station around freedom and our right to free speech. There were callers phoning in to express their support for the family….all the things you would expect after hearing that kind of news. But what moved me was Scott’s mom, she called into the show. Her voice was shaky but firm and she was amazingly gracious. It was one of her last comments that moved me deeply, and I’m paraphrasing here…she said don’t worry about the family and the protesters, today is all about Scott. Here’s what struck me – her son died fighting for peace and as today I’m sure today will be one of the toughest days of her life she is pleading for peace in her community. WOW! She could have called and asked people to take a side, she could have pleaded to end the protests. Yet she says don’t worry we won’t be affected by these protesters our focus is on my son.
In the interest of full transparency, I’m the granddaughter of a former service man. My grandfather proudly served this country for many years and it wasn’t until his later years that he shared some of his stories. The only time I ever heard him cry was one Thanksgiving when he told us about having to spend it in a wet fox hole caring for his dying best friend. Our soldiers are making sacrifices daily that we cannot even fathom. Several years ago I was on Jimbaran Beach when the bombs went off. It was a terrifying experience and the images and even smells are hard to shake even today. And in those moments I would have given anything to see an American soldier. After returning home, I remember sitting with my grandfather and asking him how you shake those images and I’ll never forget his words: “Robyn, you won’t forget, but let this be an experience that strengthens you!” I have to tell you still can’t shake the smells of the carnage today, it’s hard for me to talk about the experience but I did not let it set me back.
Our soldiers get up every morning and fight for freedom, they and their families have made the choice to make this sacrifice. Our freedom even today, does not come free, and most of us don’t have to make any sacrifices. So as these soldiers come home especially after making the ultimate sacrifice, can’t we give them one day, can’t we allow their family peace as they mourn their loss and honor not just a soldier a loved one?