Sunday, August 12, 2012
I did a run yesterday in honor of the Fallen.
The Sgt. Major who gave the speech before the race could barely finish, he was so choked up, and one family there who had recently lost their Soldier son had tears just flowing and flowing from their hearts. My feelings on war and warring aside, my concern over a nation that gives people hero status just for putting on a uniform, rather than for deeds performed in that uniform aside, I understand this sacrifice made not only by the service members, but by the families as well.
Nearly every day on PBS News they list eight to twelve more sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers who have fallen. They went to war when their country called and they did what they believed was right, and because of that their families and friends will never be the same.
There is nothing I can do or say to those who have lost someone in this way to make it better. But I can run. And so I am grateful that I could run yesterday and let these families know that their children are not forgotten. That despite the fact that I am continually appalled that the one thing mankind seems to be best at is destroying each other, I do truly believe that John Donne was right, and that No man is an island. We are all bound together and “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”
This is always on my mind more in August than any other time. In August of 1968, Staff Sergeant Lonnie Tullier of Louisiana went missing in Vietnam. I never knew SS Tullier. He was a name on a bracelet I wore. His remains were later found, and his bones were put to rest.
But Lonnie Tullier became a touchstone for me, a 12 year old girl whose life was turning upside down. Whose favorite uncle had nearly died in Vietnam, and who would never again be the same. Lonnie Tullier made the concept of class inclusion REAL. Because of him I could see that string that connects us all. He became every son lost, every father lost, every brother lost, and every uncle lost, and I became every daughter grieving, every mother grieving, every sister grieving, and every niece grieving.
What an amazing gift from someone I never met, whom I would never meet.
So yesterday when I ran for the fallen, I was also running for Lonnie Tullier who died in the jungles of Vietnam, who changed my life forever, and who taught me what John Donne has tried to teach us all for so many years :
“Never send to know for whom the bell tolls.
It tolls for thee.”