I'm going a little somber today as I'm reminded that despite the brightening mood of the country in the wake of the political shift that occurred on November 7th, we are still a nation at war and that young Americans from all sides (north, south, east and west) continue to die far from home in Iraq and Afghanistan...
On Sundays I make it a point to watch This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC as often as I can. One reason is to keep up with the political new of the week but the main reason is because they have a weekly segment toward the end of each show called In Memoriam, which highlights the accomplishments of people of note who have died that week and lists the names, and ages of U.S. forces that have died that week in combat. It's a tangible reminder for me that while I'm all caught up with football, basketball, movies, K-Fed & Britney and what not, young American soldiers are dying mostly anonymous deaths in very heinous fashions. When they die, you mostly get their name, rank, age, hometown or a weekly number posted in the paper or on a website.
Over the past couple days, I've read two articles about the lives of two such soldiers and realize that each of those numbers has a life story behind it and that we're losing a lot more than people, we're losing the potential that each of them would have brought back with them. One story which passed me by was about 2nd Lt. Emily J.T. Perez who died in Iraq on September 12, 2006.
Turn on the TV lately and you'll see plenty of southside shortys rump shaking on hip-hop videos, clowning for the attention of Flava Flav or reaching for that next doughnut before going on Oprah and asking for help. What you don't see (since they aren't nearly as entertaining) is a whole generation of southside shortys who are taking care of business and none more so than homegirl 2LT Emily P. Her death was profiled in the Washington Post on September 27th following her 9/26 funeral on the campus of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Yes, that West Point. 2LT Emily P. was doing it big, y'all. Real big.
Despite the military service academies having some of the most stringent acceptance requirements of any college in the nation, not only did she attend West Point, she graduated in the top 10% of her class and became the school's first minority female command sergeant in the history of West Point (that would be since 1802, y'all). Unfortunately, she also, at age 23, became the first female West Point graduate to die in Iraq when an IED exploded under her Humvee while patrolling southern Iraq near Najaf. Read the article and get to know homegirl.
That's just one story, y'all. Consider that as of today, 2,839 U.S. forces have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Does each one have a story as impressive as 2LT Emily P.? Probably not, but each one has a story and each one has left a lifetime of potential on the battlefield. Ponder that for a few. And if you start thinking your work week is too hard or that you can't stand another minute of sitting in rush hour traffic, or whatever trifling detail happens to push your buttons, tune into This Week, watch In Memoriam and get your attitude adjusted.