Working for a newspaper in a place like Northwest Indiana, where many young men and women join the military after high school, the dead soldier stories were far too common. I consider myself lucky because I only had to do one while I worked there, even though one was too many. But it’s one that always stuck with me.
I think about the family of Nick Idalski every Memorial Day. He was only 23 when he was killed in Iraq in June 2005. On this day each year, I think how different the holiday must be for the Idalski family and so many others. While the rest of us may take time out of our days full of BBQs, the beach or camping to think of the fallen soldiers and give our silent thanks for their service, this observance must be so much more raw for families of the fallen.
It takes special people to willfully place themselves in harms way so that our freedoms can be protected. And it takes understanding and committed people to watch their loved ones go off to war while they stay home, take care of households and worry every time the phone rings or an unfamiliar car pulls into the driveway.
People, please take time out today to think of these families and give thanks for their bravery, commitment to their countries, and their sacrifices. I don’t want to imagine a world without them. And to the family of Nick Idalski, I’m thinking of you all today and hoping that memories of happier times with Nick, and a sense of pride that you had someone so brave in your family, make you smile today.
To the men and women who serve, and the families that love them: Thank You.