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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bless Them All

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey
Flags lined the streets, some posted on flagpoles, others held by people.  After the flag-draped casket left the church, it passed between double lines of what seemed to be most of the population of Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.  Two ranks of men from the Veterans of Foreign Wars escorted the hearse through the streets.  County officials, police officers, volunteers from the Patriot Guard, and a U.S. Congressman watched as a patriot came home for the last time.
Derek Kozorosky died in uniform at the tender age of 22, a Senior Airman in the U.S. Air Force.  No, he hadn’t lost his life in Afghanistan or Iraq, but he had made the choice to serve his country and the cause of freedom.  And in my book, that’s still a hero.
Military service, even in peacetime, is risky business.  Several times each year a crewman on a carrier gets sucked into a jet engine or blown over the side by the exhaust to fall 90 feet to the ocean surface, an impact that can break bones; or gets a hand or arm mangled by machinery.  You can fall down a ladder in rough seas and break a leg, or get electrocuted by a malfunctioning piece of equipment.  The dire possibilities are endless.
Derek was fatally injured when he was hit by a fire truck as he was training new firemen. 

But this is what people do when they put on the uniform.  You don’t have to serve in a war zone to face danger, finding yourself in that moment when you discover courage you never knew you had.  Every day, young people, who in another context might be dismissed as “just a kid,” take responsibility, exercise authority and make decisions that civilians can only trust to people twice their age. 
The news is full of young people getting in trouble, going to jail, even killing one another.  Outside those headlines are the ones who have made the choice to do the right thing, made anonymous by their commitment to an honorable life.
As we mourn Senior Airman Kozorosky and honor his service to America, let’s take a moment and remember all the others.
Bless 'em all,
Bless 'em all.
The long and the short and the tall.
--Fred Godfrey
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