As we come upon the eve of the 2nd year of Remembrance of the death of my beloved son, SGT Mike Stokely, KIA 16 AUG 05 near Yusufiyah Iraq, I wanted to do something to remember this event with my friends in the blogosphere. I am a little tapped out on words as I am so busy coordinating the last minute push to have a successful car and motorcycle "Ride to Remember..." in his honor on August 25, 2007.
I am driven to have a successful event, not just to honor Mike and raise money for a scholarship in his name at his college, but to set the stage to do this in coming years and use the proceeds to honor each and everyone of the other 25 fallen GA National Guard Soldiers from Georgia's 48th Brigade Combat Team GAARNG with a scholarship in their name and memory.
At the road dedication ceremony last October 6, Abbey produced a video on the lap top at home as a tribute to Mike. The song "American Soldier" by Toby Keith is set to photos Abbey selected as a tribute to her beloved brother and fallen hero, SGT Mike Stokely. Toby Keith most likely will never know who Abbey Stokely or Mike Stokely are, or just how much this song means to a younger sister who lost her American Soldier, Hero and Brother in war. He certainly couldn't envision how many times I have replayed Abbey's video tribute and cry each time, for the words and his melody are so "Mike" to me.
To say the least, American Soldier is a fitting song chosen by Abbey to sum up Mike's life as a soldier with but one exception - he never got to have children with his high school sweetheart (Niki) who he married just ten days before he went to Iraq. Mike Stokely was a great husband, and would have been a great Dad. Obviously, he was a great brother. As a dad, I can say he was a great son as well as a most dear friend.
I would hope Toby Keith wouldn't mind this use of his song. I wish that one day I might have the brief chance to thank him in person and tell him the real "value" of his song and what it means to me and our family. But, for now, I'll just say thank you Toby Keith in cyberspace.
Now, I'll turn it over to 15 year old Abbey Stokely and invite you to take four minutes and see an up close and personal view of what the cost of freedom is to our family - A Lifetime of Love.
It is no wonder we remember with honor and on August 25 we will "Ride to Remember..." Mike Stokely.
When asked what I would say to those who built the bomb that killed Mike, my answer is "They would have better served their cause by leaving him alive to have come home to a family who would have gone on to live ordinary anonymous lives. Instead, by their acts which caused Mike's death, an enemy has brought our family and entire generation of friends alive for the cause of freedom, without bitterness, anger, or bent for revenge, as we Remember with Honor what Mike Stokely gave. We have not wavered, we shall not retreat, nor shall we forget."
proud to be the dad of Wes and Abbey Stokely and
proudly remembering my beloved son, SGT Mike Stokely
KIA 16 AUG 05 near Yusufiyah
USA E Troop 108 CAV 48th BCT GAARNG