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In Honor of Those Who Serve

Angie Morgan, November 11, 2016

A few years ago Jim, my friend and mentor, shared his concern about his teenage son, Jimmy. He seemed to lack direction and was resistant to the guidance Jim was offering. Jim was at a loss on how to reach him and I could tell his angst was keeping him up at night.

A few months later, when I saw Jim at an event and asked about Jimmy, he beamed with pride. He shared that his son made the rather bold decision to join the Army. Jim shared that while this seemed out of character for Jimmy, he had high hopes that the Army would give Jimmy a sense of purpose.

Jim was right. Over the past several years, I’ve heard about how the Army played a very deep, and important, role in Jimmy’s life. Through service, Jimmy found direction, camaraderie and fulfillment. The work Jimmy was doing felt significant to him and he was honored to serve our country. Jimmy thrived in the Army, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant at an accelerated pace. Each time I saw Jim, he’d let me scroll through his phone to look at pictures of all the cool things Jimmy was doing.

This past Saturday, I opened Facebook and saw a post from Melissa, Jimmy’s sister, who shared a picture of her brother. He had a big smile on his face. I couldn’t help but smile back at his image. A few seconds later, though, I was in disbelief as I read her post. It was a memorial, sharing the horrific news that Jimmy had been killed in an attack the previous night while he was deployed overseas. For the next few minutes, I sat there and cried for my friend and his family’s loss. I spoke with Jim the next day. There really are no words to offer to comfort someone who’s just lost a child. All I could really offer were my prayers and thoughts.

As we wrapped up our conversation, Jim asked me to do a few things. First, to hug my boys and remind them how special they are to me. He also asked me to visit the next time I’m in Texas so we could look at pictures of Jimmy and celebrate his life. Finally, he asked me to get more engaged with how we – as a country – can end our wars.

I share this sad news today, on Veterans Day, so we can all pause for a second and think about our service members, including Jimmy – an all American boy who found his way in the Army and paid the ultimate sacrifice. I also ask that you do one more thing. Heed the last piece of advice Jim gave me. While I don’t yet have the answer to how I can best engage, I’m committed to honoring my promise. Veterans Day shouldn’t just be a time for reflection and gratitude. It should also be a day of action where we recommit our intentions for bringing about peace both at home and abroad.

Listen in as Veterans tell their War Stories: a series of intimate conversations between combat veterans of America’s wars, perhaps offering some insight into the experiences that shaped their lives.

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