I’m writing this enroute from LHR to SEA – heading westwards to spend another happy Thanksgiving with E, E and A. I love Thanksgiving. It’s a bonus holiday a month before Christmas which I have been very happy to adopt. And whilst Christmas is rightly about the celebration of our Christian beliefs this Thursday is a more primal celebration. An acknowledgement of what we as a species hold dear. Kinridship, growth, shared journeys.
Just before I settled down to watch the in-flight entertainment (this is a BA 777 clunker so NO video on demand – it’s all scheduled programming – nap and miss it and tough !) I read a eulogy (published by the Daily Telegraph) given by the widow of Staff Sgt Olaf Schmid who had recently died in Afghanistan. He was a bomb disposal expert. A peacemaker if ever there was one. Making corners of that embattled nation a little safer for all. Her words had a simplicity and a beauty. More powerful than any President or Prime Minister could muster (in fact neither the US President or UK Prime Minister even bother such is their inability to galvanise or express what it is to lead.
I’m going to reproduce her words below. In 10 months of blogger I don’t think I’ve wanted words to be read by others more:
‘I have chosen to speak because to look on us as husband and wife was an understatement. He said we were a unit. In my eyes my husband, my son’s father, was a warrier. Warriors are unique; our protectors, not destroyers.
Oz and troops like him join to serve traditional warrior values; to passionately protect the country they love, its ideals, and especially their families, communities and each other. In past conflicts, where there was an immediate threat to our shores and our existence, soldiers were never plagued with self-doubt about the value of their role in society, and a people and their soldiers were once close to unity.
We might disagree with a war: however, I hope Oz’s death and my public appreciation and our community’s display of respect here today can serve to bridge that gap and unite us once more with out troops. I would personally like to thank you all for coming here today and showing your support.
All the families of lost or injured servicemen should expect our peacemakers to show they are working as hard as Oz to preserve life. For the present too many die, too many veterans exist in silence and too many are left with horrific disabilities while the rest of the community proceed as if it is business as usual.
My husband’s death means it can never be business as usual again for our son and I. There is just too much that time cannot erase. Most of you will know Oz the joker, always up for a giggle. However, I lived with a very different man, particuarly in the past 18 months when I have stood by him through what he described as his toughest, darkest challeneg ever.
When he felt compromised, overwhelmed or threatened, I’ve wiped his tears, pulled him upm and fought his fears for him. Becoming his widow has been the hardest thing I have ever done with him. I am fiercely loyal to serve him in death as I did when he was alive, however much it is breaking me.
Hopefully he is watching and knows he is the only man who will have all of me. Oz lived and stood for something he believed in. In the end he paid the ultimate sacrafice for those beliefs. We now have a duty to not just honour what he stood for, but to live lives which honour the sacrifice he made. Please do not allow him to die in vain.
On Thursday I’m going to reflect on these words. Whatever our personal views of war and conflict we need to recognise that there are people who we will never meet but who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe and secure.
That’s what I will be giving thanks for. That and the people who I’m proud to share life’s journey with.