By Cassandra Fawley
At twenty-five, I can not remember the day my nephew was born, the day my brother got married, or my Aunt Paula’s funeral after a five-year battle with breast cancer. I was not here. I missed more than one Christmas, six different Thanksgiving holidays, and seven years worth of birthdays. I do not recall what day I graduated from high school, my eighteenth birthday, or the first time I drank an alcoholic beverage. However, I clearly remember the day I left for boot camp, the day I graduated from boot camp, and the day my active duty service in the United States Marine Corps came to an end. I remember these things, because I chose to serve our nation in the United States Armed Forces.
I have met people who never returned home to see their parents and I have typed certificates for flags that have been flown over the United States Capital in their honor. I have met parents, spouses, children, and friends who would give anything to see their loved one walk through their front door. In some cases, I have waited for my own loved ones to return from six, nine, and twelve-month deployments when they went to places overseas that they are not guaranteed to come back from. I have woke up to my friends screaming out in their sleep in the middle of the night, dreaming of experiences that I, and most others, can not fathom.
When any individual signs a contract with the United States Military, they sign away their life. It is important to remember and respect every single person who signs the contract, knowing they may not return. They also acknowledge that they may be one of the few who never go over seas. When an individual signs that contract, they are playing Russian roulette with their pen. The enlisted recite the following oath, while the commissioned speak slightly different words:
“I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Since September 11, 2001, over six thousand military members have been lost in combat in the Middle East. However, this death count does not include military members who have passed away in training accidents or fatalities caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Since the day our Spring Break began, at least twelve military members have passed away without entering a combat zone. On March 10, eleven military members were killed in a training accident off the coast of Florida. One of these military members was one of Wisconsin’s finest, Staff Sergeant Kerry M. Kemp. Staff Sergeant Kemp graduated from Port Washington High School in 2005 and joined the United States Marine Corps.. He lost his life during night training with the Marine Corps Special Operations Forces. He will never see his daughter age past one month old and his wife will never see her husband come home. Less than a day later, twenty-three year old Lance Corporal Anthony T. DuBeau, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, lost his life while performing his daily duties. A civilian aircraft struck the government vehicle Lance Corporal DuBeau was operating while inspecting the airfield at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona.
Staff Sergeant Kemp and Lance Corporal DuBeau were both originally from towns less than an hour away from the Carroll University campus. Please take a moment to thank both these gentlemen for taking an oath and agreeing to protect our constitution and our freedom against all enemies. During this moment, please remember the others who have been killed during training or due to combat. Finally, please take a moment to thank all those who have served, whether they are sitting in your classroom or overseas, for they have also made sacrifices and missed moments they will never be able to relive. Although you may not agree with the war, recognize that they put their lives on the line every day so that you have the freedom to choose to condemn their actions.