Monday, May 30, 2011

Never Forgotten

December 17, 2003, Specialist Christopher James Holland of Brunswick, Georgia, was killed in Baghdad, Iraq.

He was an Army Medic on patrol when a sniper's bullet took his life.

He was a son, brother, & friend.  My friend.  

We had known each other since 6th grade.  He was fairly quiet, intelligent, had a FOR REAL Southern accent - he seriously made "Dana" have about 3 syllables -, and he had a quirky sense of humor.  Once, while sitting in Algebra & obviously bored, he just started repeating, "Dana (Day-uh-nuh), Dana, Dana, Dana, Dana, Dana" eventually punctuated by "Lori, Lori, Lori, Lori" and back to "Dana, Dana, Dana, Dana."  You get the picture.  He kept his voice low enough that the teacher didn't notice but just loud enough that Lori & I were damn near ready to strangle him and then he started giggling.  Yeah, you couldn't stay mad at him once you realized getting annoyed was EXACTLY the reaction he was aiming for.

His life ended just a few weeks before he was supposed to go home for some R&R.  A gathering of friends from home had been set in motion. I was disappointed because, living in Washington at the time, I was unable to afford plane tickets home.  

Chris & I had kept in touch through old fashioned snail mail while he was in Iraq.  His letters were always upbeat yet realistic. He described in fairly good detail about what he was doing in his day to day life.  Chris talked about taking toys & candy out on patrol so that he could give things to the Iraqi children.  As a medic, he treated not only American soldiers but he talked about treating Iraqis on a regular basis, too.  He was surprised by the fact that they were teaching Iraqi medical professionals concepts and care that were basic in our (US) healthcare system but new to them.

Even if only on a local level, I got the distinct feeling he was making a positive difference even if he never realized it.

Then, I got the call from my mom.

Another friend had died too soon.  In one of those weird coincidences, Chris had been the one to quietly & successfully bring our classmates together online after Jessica's death through a yahoo group.  Now, he was gone, too.

Chris was killed while trying to save the life of another soldier during an ambush.  He is a hero and he will never be forgotten by his family, his friends, or his battalion.

This Memorial Day, please remember the men & women who have died and those who continue to willingly accept the duty of making the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect our country.  Regardless of politics or ideologies, these are women & men who have the courage to risk death for our lives & our way of life.  I don't know if I could say the same for myself.

May God bless the men & women in our Armed Forces.

May God bring peace to the families of the fallen.

Thank you for your service and your sacrifice, Chris.

Who are you remembering this Memorial Day? 
Please share their stories or links to their stories in the comments.

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