Monday, May 26, 2008

Thank You To Those Who Make This The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

I was having a conversation with a friend of a returning soldier from Iraq. The military man said that he was amazed at what his uniform did for him: on this return trip home, everywhere he went in the airports, people would stop him to say thanks, to buy him a drink or to hug him. He was struck with the thought that so many people would outwardly appreciate him - a stranger - just because he has honor of serving this country. He realized that his uniform was more than just cloth and threads; it was a sign of freedom.

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I received this email earlier, and I couldn't help but feel the serious beauty that demands nothing less than my utmost respect and my deepest thanks to the men and women who are courageous, brave and more selfless than I. To those serving our country in any capacity, thank you. For those who have fallen in defending and honoring us, I promise to not crush your backs on which I stand a free citizen.

Here are two pictures that were awarded first and second place at the Picture of the Year International this year. Very very touching photos.

First Place

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Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain News

When 2nd Lt. James Cathey's body arrived at the Reno Airport, Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac. During the arrival of another Marine's casket last year at Denver International Airport, Major Steve Beck described the scene as one of the most powerful in the process: "See the people in the windows? They'll sit right there in the plane, watching those Marines. You gotta wonder what's going through their minds, knowing that they're on the plane that brought him home," he said. "They're going to remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They're going to remember bringing that Marine home. And they should."


Second Place

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Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain News

The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. "I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it," she said. "I think that's what he would have done."

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