09 September 2010

"Contrast of Respect"

From our friend Robert Stokely.

Maybe take a moment to read this news article I found on AOL.

Yes, that is right, folks sucking off the good ole' American Freedom straw want to show Taliban killing our military personnel who are actually dying in real time while this video game is being produced and promoted. Wow, that builds support for the home team by marginalizing the lives of our beloved military personnel who are serving in a real war and dying real deaths, coming home really maimed, and that leaves lives really altered for all time to come, whether emotionally or financially or both. Wow, what patriotism these video artists show.... (sick).

Now contrast that with this rendition of the National Anthem, which by the way, I happen to have had a non-singing part along with my son Wes and 20 plus other family members of Georgia Fallen Soldiers as we held a 50 x 80 foot American Flag.

Pay attention to the respect for America given the Star Spangled Banner; how it is passionately sung, watch the reverence of 93,000 plus fans, and look at the drivers, crews and their family as they show respect, especially those who held their hands over their heart. And hey, who can discount a couple fighter jets overhead....

I have watched over and over and I can't say what is my favorite part, but if I had to make a call, then the scene where the wife / mom holding her little blond child next to her husband / Matt Kenseth NASCAR driver track side speaks volumes to me.

It reminds me of those many times I held Mike and a moment in time shortly after he died when I sat in a parking lot and began to cry as I watched a parent walk by holding the hand of their small child. As I cried I asked myself how did I go from a car seat to a casket in 20 short years... and I was again reminded how much I had lost. But the scene I just described brings joy to my heart, for a new day emerges for a new young family to look hopefully to the future with freedom abundant.

So, take a few minutes to watch this live moment in time from the other night at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sprint Cup NASCAR Race, as captured on YouTube:

You know, a bomb exploding and sending shrapnel flying through the air killed my boy. Many others in the War on Terror have died in a similar fashion. When the Star Spangled Banner is played, I stand at Attention, place my right hand clutching my boy's Dog Tag over my heart, and even though my singing is horrible, I at least mouth the words to my best ability. And when it gets to the part "bombs bursting in air" I can't help but softly sob as I lower my head and shut my eyes in reverence and envision my boy going down for Freedom that early morning near Yusufiyah.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do something. But those with their video game killing American Soldiers are fortunate they don't have to worry about it. You see, they don't operate under Taliban or Al-Qaeda rule. The video game promoters are free to produce and sell this "game" because of the sacrifice of the very soldiers they want to mock through an exercise of free speech / expression, even as they disrespect those who paid a high cost for such freedom. Even as they disregard the feelings of the family of the Fallen.

When people ask me what can they can do to make it better for me and my family, I tell them nothing can really make it better unless we get Mike back. But I also tell them they can come close by Making it Matter what Mike and so many others like him have given. To Make it Matter all one has to do is Remember with Honor.

Atlanta Motor Speedway, Ernie Haas Signature Sound and those in attendance who showed respect the other night, and especially Mrs. Kennseth holding her small child and obviously showing such respect while enjoying the moment, Made it Matter and Remembered with Honor what those who die on the field of battle and their families have paid toward the high cost of freedom. A price that is too dear to quantify in dollars.

A Lifetime of Love.

Robert Stokely
proud dad SGT Mike Stokely, Bronze Star and Purple Heart
KIA 16 AUG 05 near Yusufiyah Iraq


Tina Webb said...

Thank you for sharing this it brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for the loss of your son I can not imagine the range of emotions every day for you. As the mom and aunt of Marines and Navy service members this really touches me. Thank you for all you have sacrificed and raising such a wonderful Man to protect me and my family.

Kathi said...

Thank you, for posting these powerfully moving words from Mr. Stokely.
And Thank You, Mr. Stokely, for always reminding us of what's important, in such an eloquent way.