May Column Winner

Remembering those that I never knew

TRUDY HART, The Guymon Daily Herald

As an American, I have always considered myself a sucker for a sentimental story of a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
As a writer, I, myself, get to write those stories. I put a lot into such a powerful story, which I would hope could be a tribute to the individual I am writing about.
I get so involved in the writing, that I go to the extreme of finding as much about that individual as I can to get to a point where I feel like I knew that person myself.
This is my second time to do a Memorial Day story honoring a fallen soldier, and for the second time, I feel like I accomplished that goal.
I asked so many questions, researched, and saw so many photos and videos of Josh Pearce, that for the day, while writing that story, I felt like I knew him myself. I could hear his laugh in my mind while I was gathering memories from his friends as they shared their stories of pastimes with him, and I could see his smile as they shared stories of his orneriness.
No, I never met him, but I felt a connection to him through the story. It seems as though he is the exact type of person I would be friends with. He had a passion for living, and for his country. In all those stories shared with me, nobody talked about the way he died. They all talked about the way that he did indeed LIVE.
That is the kind of legacy all should strive to leave behind. A story of power, that makes people smile and beam with pride as they talk about you. A story that has meaning, with a lot of laughs in between.
21 years is not a long time to be alive, but from what I've been told, Josh made the best of it.
I wrote a similar story about Luke James last year, also a Texas County resident and fallen soldier. His mother sent in a photo of him as a very young child, wide eyed and innocent. That photo paired with a touching story of a mother's love and sorrow over her son, made me emotional as I was writing the story.
Again, I never met the soldier I was writing about, but I was that involved in my story, that I felt like I knew him.
The photo had a huge impact on me, as I hope it did to the readers. It helps everyone to realize this is somebody's son. This man of valor was once a child who was carried in his mother’s arms and grew up to be a man that stood up for his country.
These two men, and all other soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, didn't pick their fights, but they were there to pick up the pieces when they were assigned where they needed to go and took on their duties with pride for their country.
As a writer, I hope that others can get the same feelings I got while writing my story. If that happens, then I've done my job.
When going through photos of these two young men's memorials, I see crying soldiers, family members, and friends.
I've had many losses in my life, so that may be part of why I get so emotionally connected with these stories, but I can in no way relate to what it feels like to be so close to a soldier, knowing that the challenge of fighting for their country is a risk, and then knowing they made the ultimate sacrifice.
To those people, I have the utmost respect. I feel that as Americans, we should all feel that honor and respect this Memorial Day.
Think about those families. Think about those soldiers, once as blonde haired, big-eyed little 3-year-old boys, not knowing they would become heroes.
One of my favorite quotes for a day such as Memorial Day is this; " The dead soldier's silence sings our national anthem," Aaron Kilbourn.
I will leave you all with that, as the thought of it should speak to you more than any other words I can express through my own writing.
Show your gratitude to our soldiers, fallen, and fighting today, for they take a bigger risk than I could ever imagine taking. God Bless Our Soldiers…From the Hartland. 

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