My thoughts on Memorial Day - A Warfighters Perspective by Levi Rodgers:
Memorial Day; an extremely tough day for many, and rightfully so. Losing a family member or fellow service member is tough beyond what words can describe. For me, the biggest challenge has been survival. Almost 12 years ago, the vehicle I was in struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), and everyone in the vehicle was killed except me. The Men that perished that day - SFC Bradley Bohle
, SFC Shawn McCloskey
, SSG Joshua Mills
, and our Interpreter Razul - paid the ultimate sacrifice and their families have experienced the toughest of pains that a loved one can endure.
For the longest time I wished, hoped, and prayed that I could have traded myself for my men that were lost that night. Losing men under your command and surviving is very difficult. Nothing can compare to the loss and sorrow experienced by their loved ones. All of them were fathers, husbands, sons, friends, family members, and awesome teammates.
My mindset was horrible and rapidly deteriorating. I struggled with many things, including simple daily necessities. It was all very difficult to deal with until I decided that enough was enough. I was letting that attack control me. The events that happened on that day were incredibly tragic, and I would take them back if I could, but I can't. It wasn't until I decided, based on the advice of a few friends of mine, that I needed to look tragedy in the face and WIN. I needed to honor the loss of my men by living the best life I possibly could - honoring them through action.
When life places us in front of adversity, we should do whatever we can to face it head on and charge forward. Charge up that proverbial hill, no matter how steep; charge through the brush, no matter how thick - by any means! I am still charging up my hill and frankly, I am not sure I will ever get to the top of the hill, or the other side of the brush. However, the blessing and the honor I experience now comes in a different manner. Those who come after me now will have an easier time climbing that hill because of the choices I am making and the opportunities that I have been so blessed to have, especially the opportunity of life.
Some may wonder, why is Levi saying all of this? Well, here is why ... Many of my fellow Veterans let Memorial Day deepen painful memories. Let's think of Memorial Day as a day to honor, remember, and cherish the memories of those that are no longer with us and spur us to action in an effort to improve our lives - right now! Go live the greatest life you can. Be one that people look up to. Use the challenges and memories of your lost loved ones as fuel, as a catalyst of sorts to help you go kick ass and honor their lives and their Service to this wonderful nation. The best way you can honor others is by living the most amazing life as humanly possible; anything less could be viewed as a wasted opportunity.