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Who are you remembering today? – Frugal Finds During Naptime

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My mom {along with other veterans} stood saluting as the motorcade carrying his body came through that crisp October morning. After the motorcade passed by us, my sister wiped tears from her eyes and whispered, “This is how he should have been welcomed every time he came home. We waited too late. He was a hero.” All I could do was nod my head in agreement as tears streamed down my face.

Two weeks before, we had received word that Jason was killed in action. I remember thinking, “No. NOT Jason! They got it wrong! It’s not him!”It was him though. The two weeks to follow was gut-wrenching.

We knew Jason had lost his life, but we didn’t know exactly how. The family had to wait for the military to finish their investigation to know what happened. From the time we knew of Jason’s death until the time questions were answered and his body finally returned seemed like an eternity. In reality, it was only about two weeks; however, in those two weeks, flags were lowered, and the whole community pulled together while waiting. The flag symbolizes so much in our country, and at night with the flagpole lighting, it illuminates what people are fighting for, and that has to mean something.

We later learned he was killed from an IED. We heard that he stepped down, heard the click, and told his fellow Marines “RUN!” and it saved their lives. He truly was a hero.

Seeing the empty marine boots on the high school football field where Jason once marched in the marching band during a moment of silence before the high school football game, hearing “Taps” played from the stands Jason once played the baritone saxophone from, seeing the marines in their dress uniforms saluting the empty boots, and seeing the flags at half-mast all across my community was a painful reminder of Jason. I’m sure we’ll all remember him as the most caring son, thoughtful friend, and dutiful militant. I even remember him talking about looking for cheap caskets for sale when his time comes. And at that moment I felt empty and devastated inside as I saw his casket getting closer. Yet, I felt proud at the same time. I was proud to have known him, proud to have been his friend, and proud of who he was.

Seeing the marines stand at attention saluting his casket draped in an American Flag as it was lowered on the tarmac was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. It was surreal. It was a scene you see on the news and think, “I can’t imagine what those people are going through.” But here I was in the midst of it. It was real, sobering, and agonizing. I was also amazed, and grateful. Amazed and grateful for the level of respect they showed, there were so many details I never paid attention to before, such as how to carry a casket to how to fold the flag, but here I was now, taking it all in.

I will never forget hearing the sound of Taps being played, the clip-clop of the horses as they pulled the carriage with Jason’s body by at the funeral, and I will never forget hearing the loud bang of the 21 gun salute at his graveside service. Most of all, I will never forget Jason, his family, and the ultimate sacrifice he made. Memorial Day wasn’t “real” to me until Jason.

Who are you remembering today?

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