A Memorial Day spent in Afghanistan

By Sgt. Samantha Prang


This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend—a time to honor and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. Many things happen over a typical Memorial Day weekend every year: pool season begins, sports games will be played, barbeques are held, and the like.

Being in Afghanistan didn’t allow me to celebrate the typical way. I didn’t get to enjoy the start to summer, but instead participated in a Memorial Day ceremony as a member of our color guard to honor my fellow brothers and sisters, and the sacrifice they made so that everyone back home has the freedom to celebrate.

As the ceremony began, and I stood in front of generals and colonels and sergeant majors, I kept thinking about how honored I was to be a part of this. It not only taught me even more discipline, but it reminded me of the real reason why I joined the Army in the first place.

Back during my senior year of high school, I was struggling to find my next step in life, what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go to college, and whether I was even ready for it.  One day, my teacher took us outside,for a funeral procession for one of Bartlett High School’s alumni who had died serving his country. This was the second one in two years. There were hundreds of us standing out there waiting and everyone was talking and goofing off, until we saw the first car in the procession.

At that point, everyone stopped and it got so quiet, that all you could hear was the noise of the vehicles slowing passing by. I was amazed at how it went from a bunch of high schoolers goofing off to a bunch of men and woman standing there showing their support for that veteran.  As I walked back inside, I had this feeling that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to join the United States Army, and be a part of something much bigger than anything I could have done at school.  And two months later, I enlisted.

This Memorial Day is something I won’t forget. This was the one day that I didn’t want to be thanked for serving my country. Instead, I wanted people to thank those who died, not only in this war, but in past ones. We are so fortunate to have what we do in life, and there are so many who never get to experience those things. So to all those who are no longer with us, thank you for what you did and for allowing me my freedom and protecting our great nation.

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