It is a simple story in some ways. A matter of history in others. All who have fought for this nation share in it. We entered the pages of history when we fought, suffered, died and survived the battles we saw in whatever war, or wars we fought in. Most of us are and will remain nameless participants in those pages of history — except to those with whom we fought.
Perfecto Sanchez entered the pages of history when he fought his battle on the road into Ramadi in Iraq. He is interviewed here by Tamron Hall on her News Nation program on MSNBC. There is nothing dramatic about this interview. It is short and rests on a few simple, clearly stated, and honest words from Perfecto Sanchez. They are talking about a new series that is showing over a number of Monday evenings on the American Heroes Channel (formerly the Military Channel), which will tell the real-life battlefield stories of individual veterans. These stories will reveal the reality that all of us who have fought in combat will be able to recognize. Maybe they will help others to see and understand what it was like for us, and how those experiences shaped our lives from then on.
“I never forget them. I thank them for teaching me, for protecting me, and that’s something I want to continue.”
What is really moving though is the quiet affection and respect that Perfecto Sanchez has for his brothers-in-arms, how he understands his duty to them. He says, “One thing I promised the men that I served next to is that I would live everyday in their honor. I never forget that experience — I never forget them. I thank them for teaching me, for protecting me, and that’s something I want to continue — to live every day that I have on this earth to be a good person.”
There it is. That is what we do for one another and for those we have been so graced to live our lives with as veterans for the rest of our lives. We remember each other. We honor them and those memories of when we had each other’s back, when we fought so hard to protect one another. We remember what we learned from each other about honor, loyalty, sacrifice, and courage. We thank them for protecting us, sometimes with their lives, by living the rest of our lives being “good persons.”
This is what it is all about in the end. Yes, we fought, we suffered, and so many of us still suffer the terrible realities of our physical and our psychological wounds. But we can use the same courage we had to call on while on the battlefield to choose to live out our lives in the manner that Perfecto Sanchez speaks of here.
What he said clearly moves this interviewer and for all the right reasons. She got the point. Thank you, Perfecto Sanchez and the American Heroes Channel for making this series available to us. Thanks, too, to all who have served and who continue to live in service to the common good of this nation.
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