Last December, I flew to Scottsdale and surprised my dad for his 60th birthday. My brother, Bryan, and I had planned the trip for months and couldn't wait to spend the day with dad celebrating his life and spending some time together.
A day before we were supposed to leave, Bryan called to say he couldn't make it. He is a Navy SEAL and a friend of his, a buddy from his old platoon, had been killed in Iraq. Instead of celebrating with us, he would be attending to the funeral services of this young man.
While dad and I were at lunch, he called.
He had spent the previous day accepting the body of this young soldier at an airfield in Vermont and escorting him back to D.C. where he would be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. He cried as he told us about the man's amazing family and the difficulty of performing the uniform inspection on the body of a young friend who died so courageously.
Hearing him on the phone, my dad broke down at the table and wept. He wept for his son who had made him so proud by forgoing the good for the best. Who had set his face as flint and come back unscathed from war only to walk another family through the heartbreak we had dreaded. Who he loved not because of all of the honorable things he had done or the medals that hung on his chest, but for the son he had been and the one he had become.
We're so thankful for Bryan and the men and women like him who live lives in noble service to our country.
Have a blessed Memorial Day.