How do you write about someone who has been killed in action when you barely knew him? When I heard the news this morning that one of our Utah soldiers was killed yesterday, I wasn’t sure if I would write about it but like a couple other times in the past, I think the only way I can get over these feelings of gloom and despair are to write about them. The soldier was a young LT with a young family. At Shelby he had a picture of his family above his bunk, just like so many other soldiers.
This morning the Utah contingency is in various stages of shock. Of course those who knew him and his family are more affected than those of us who would recognize his face but not much more. I think the thing that is causing us all to pause and reflect, and me in particular, is that death is a real possibility that we all face but one that we don’t want to deal with; that it can reach out and touch us in a moment when we least expect it. I know there have been times when I have been pretty cavalier in my belief that I was impervious to death. Before I left I felt such a strong feeling of peace and comfort that everything would be alright that I’ve taken that to mean that I would return home safely. But if I am honest with myself, that’s not what I felt. All I know is that everything will be alright, even if I don’t come home and that’s not a thought I want to think about.
I think that’s what’s affected me more than anything this morning. Did he feel the same way I did before we got deployed? Did he feel like the Lord would take care of everything and that he would return home safely when the reality has proven to be otherwise?
And then my thoughts turn to his wife and children and the grief and anguish they must be feeling this morning. I can only imagine what his family is going through and my heart just aches. How do you find the words to express your sympathies, your grief at their loss? How do you adequately thank his family for the sacrifice of their husband and father? I don’t know that words can adequately express those feelings. I know I’m not doing a very good job.
With today being the Sabbath, I am grateful that I’ll be able to meet with my fellow Latter-Day Saint Soldiers and partake of the Sacrament. I know that there will be a very different spirit in our meeting tonight. I know each one of us will be thinking the same thoughts, offering the same prayer for his family and thanking the Lord for our own safety. I am looking forward to renewing my covenants and reflecting on the infinite mercy that is the atonement and what it means to this young officer and his family. Words cannot take away the pain and anguish they will feel for a very long time but fortunately they, we, I, don’t have to rely on words alone. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have that if we keep our covenants that we will one day see each other and be able to live together as a family for all eternity. So it’s not the words themselves that bring comfort but the truth behind the words.
I guess my final thoughts are on our officer and the sacrifice he made. He was here trying to bring peace to a violence ridden land. He was trying to teach the ANA how to become a better Army. He was serving his country. He was a hero in the truest sense. So on this day of mourning all I can say to him and his family is “thank you and that my thoughts and prayers will be with you.”