Monday, May 26, 2008

In Memoriam

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. Saturday i helped staff an information table for Chicago WPS at the Park Ridge Memorial Day Soccer Tournament, yesterday Ann and i watched the Fire victory then hosted a cookout for relatives and today we're off to our niece's graduation party. All are typical Memorial Day weekend activities. The real meaning of Memorial Day is often overlooked unfortunately. Even in this time of war when more than 150,000 US Soldiers are in battle overseas, we tend to focus on the home front and forget about the men and women who are risking their lives and those that have given their lives for our country.

i first registered as a pacifist more than thirty years ago and have been active in various peace efforts over the last three decades including Congressional lobbying for Peace Action Wisconsin. My beliefs and actions do not diminish my respect and honor for those that fight our country's battles. Nor do they suppress the sorrow i have for the families of the more than 4,000 fallen Americans in the Iraq War/Occupation. i do not know the exact number of dead in that war, but i do know that whatever the number is, it is at least one more than the official tally.

PhotobucketBrandon Kitchens cared for his country and he cared for the Chicago Fire. Brandon's obituary noted that he was "a senior airman and intelligence officer, Brandon's training in intelligence proved vital on the ground, assisting Army convoys and evaluating areas to locate air strips. (Last May), Brandon completed a four-year stint with the Air Force that sent him to Iraq three times and Afghanistan twice."

Afterwards, Brandon spent two months at home supporting the Fire to his fullest, took a position with the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Committee and then his heart tragically gave out on a soccer field at the age of 23.

i am not sure of the medical reasons for his death, but in my heart, i believe the effects of three tours of duty had a residual effect that cost Brandon his life and the Fire one of its greatest supporters. Yesterday the Fire destroyed Juan Carlos Osorio's New York Red Bulls 5-1 with nearly 100 travelling Fire supporters cheering them on for 90 minutes. If Brandon were still with us, he surely would have been in Giants Stadium leading the charge. And nothing would have pleased him more than to see disloyalty to the Fire rewarded with that kind of defeat. Brandon was loyal to the Fire, loyal to his friends and loyal to his country.

So on this Memorial Day, the first since Brandon passed, i ask you to remember Brandon, remember all our country's heroes and take a moment to read (or reread) the words he gave us to inspire support of the Chicago Fire.



Karl said...

thanks peter.

Anonymous said...

Are there not people who do a great many tours of duty in our Armed Forces, whose constitutions would seem to be less hearty than a 23-year-old male who often plays a physically demanding sport, who haven't had their hearts give out on them?

Not to minimize the tragic death of your friend, Peter. I'm just saying that Kitchens' death would seem to me to be as much (if not more) a matter of genetics as of military service. Or, at worst, that we'll never know.

It would seem to me that someone who believes as forcefully as you do in the notion of peace would believe in a higher power. Call it God, call it Fate, call it Nature, call it whatever you like.

But if a 23-year-old can't stand up to the rigors of military service, perhaps that says more about the cruel hand God/Fate/Nature dealt him than it does about military service, a noble cause for which Kitchens volunteered, if I'm not mistaken.

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