Each year more than 350 flags are set into a Field of Honor by Veterans Network Committee of Northern Illinois, every flag representing a service person killed in acton in Operation Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.
This year the field is located next to Aldi’s at 3340 Three Oaks Rd, Cary, IL and the closing ceremony will be today at 6:00 PM.
As I sat in the middle of the field, as I do most years, I thought about the awful waste of human life. Each flag was tagged with the name of one of the soldiers who died, along with a short history of their lives and deaths. I never knew any of them, but I attended some of their funerals as a motorcycle escort.
Almost as tragic as their deaths is the way we’ve normalized and condoned disrespect for their sacrifice. More than just being shameful, it underscores the withering soul of America.
For his actions of selflessly protecting the men in his command in Iraq in 2004, 27-year old Captain Humayun Khan was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. You can read more about Captain Khan HERE.
25-year old Sergeant La David Johnson was part of an elite Army special forces group that got ambushed in Niger in 2017. Johnson was one of four U.S. servicemen killed in that ambush during a mission shrouded in mystery. You can read more about Sergeant Johnson HERE.
Johnson and Khan never met, but they had two things in common. They were both described as men who loved their country and neither one was White. Those are just facts.
Another fact is that Eddie Gallagher, a White Navy SEAL accused of war crimes and described by his team mates as pure evil was pardoned in 2019 by the president who attacked the Gold Star families of both Johnson and Khan. You can read about that HERE.
You can call that critical race theory, but they’re just facts and they seem to speak very clearly for themselves.
In 2016, Captain Khan’s parents, Khizer and Ghazala spoke out against the dystopian picture candidate Donnie Trump was painting of America, a picture that seemed to preclude non-White participants. Trump immediately went on the attack, excoriating Gold Star parents for speaking out against a message of racial hatred.
The men and women I rode with on missions escorting dead soldiers to their final resting places would once have suffered no such thing from anyone, not a presidential candidate or even the president himself.
That norm was shattered when Donnie took aim at John McCain, an undeniably patriotic and heroic America who endured the horrors of one of the most brutal POW camps ever to intern American soldiers.
If you thought that Trump’s anti-McCain strategy would have been the end of him, we were both wrong.
In a phone call with Sergeant Johnson’s pregnant widow, Myeshia, Donnie told her that her husband knew what he signed up for. In the car with Mrs. Johnson was Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who confirmed Trump’s scornful message of condolence.
That episode ended with Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly calling Congresswoman Wilson an empty barrel.
Take all this for what you will. Things have changed in America and not in a good way. Political opponents, people of color or other-than-usual sexual orientation have become mortal enemies.
If you’re of a mind to think about the sacrifices made for the lives we lead today, I would ask you to spend a moment thinking about the sacrifices of Captain Humayun Khan and Sergeant La David Johnson and their families. They deserved better from America.
In fact, don’t we all deserve better?
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