Mrs. Barnett, this is Sgt. Smith calling to inform you that there has been an incident regarding men within your husband’s unit. We want to assure you that your husband is fine. On April 25, we regret to say that Richard Herrema was killed in action while serving his country.
Every military spouse, parent, sibling, and loved one just paused.
As many times as I’ve read those words from a story my coauthor, Kathy Barnett, wrote in The Warrior’s Bride, goosebumps still went up my arms as I copy and pasted them from the manuscript.
Kathy continues the story, relating chilling details from her husband, Sam. She wrote:
Sam had been just eighteen inches from Rick when he had been shot and killed instantly. Sam had to complete the mission leading his team, and then he was determined to get Rick’s body out with them on the chopper. He carried the 160-pound body of his friend for over a mile, while both were in full kit.
Rick never came home. And Sam came home forever changed.
Memorial Day 2016 celebrations
This weekend, many across the United States will celebrate Memorial Day with picnics and cook outs. Some communities will host parades, and some will release fireworks. Red, white, and blue desserts will find their way to tables, and US flags that have sat idle all winter in closets will be hoisted once more.
I appreciate all the celebration. I do.
But my heart goes back to men like Rick. Men I never knew who dared to stand between me and evil. Men who paid with their lives so that I may live in great freedom.
I also remember the families whose hearts were ripped apart by the sacrifice of these brave men. I look at my husband and my sons, and I wonder about the wives and the mothers who accepted the terrible news from those in uniform.
And then I remember the men and women still bravely standing between me and evil. I know Memorial Day is about the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines we’ve lost, but I also know that one man’s death ripples through his unit and claims a piece of them all.
Reagan’s Memorial Day thoughts
On May 31, 1982, President Ronald Reagan spoke these words at Arlington National Cemetery:
In 1863, when he dedicated a small cemetery in Pennsylvania marking a terrible collision between the armies of North and South, Abraham Lincoln noted the swift obscurity of such speeches. Well, we know now that Lincoln was wrong about that particular occasion. His remarks commemorating those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” were long remembered. But since that moment at Gettysburg, few other such addresses have become part of our national heritage—not because of the inadequacy of the speakers, but because of the inadequacy of words.
I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. Words are even more feeble on this Memorial Day, for the sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them.
Yet, we must try to honor them—not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.
I will remember
I also have no illusions about what I can add. My simple words and my moments of silent remembrance can never repay Rick or his family, even though I think of them more often than they know.
Instead I will fight on behalf of the military families of this country. I will sacrifice my time to love them and encourage them. I will stand in the gap between evil and the United States of America by boldly praying against the forces of evil that seek to destroy her, her military, and their families.
I will honor Rick by remaining on the battlefield, fighting for the hearts and souls of people for as long as God allows me to remain on this earth.
And a piece of me will never forget Rick and the men he represents to my heart.
The excerpt above is from
The Warrior’s Bride:
Biblical Strategies to Help the Military Spouse Thrive.
Grab your copy of the full book by clicking here