As I sit and write this blog, my mind wonders to today's earlier events... our community has just buried a young man who gave his life for our freedom. Military service is in his blood as he followed the footsteps of other men in his family. His name is Frank B. Walkup IV. He was a 1st Lt. in United States Army Infantry where he was trained as Airborne, Air Assault, and Ranger qualified. He was commissioned as 2nd Lt. on May 5, 2005, the day he graduated from UT Knoxville. He died serving our country in Iraq on June 16th, 2007 and in a fitting way was put to rest today, July 4th, the day we celebrate our freedom. He like others who have given their all for others left behind a family... A young wife, they were married two years, a mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends... He was only 23 years of age.
The last person to die in war before Lt. Walkup in our community was my Uncle.
His name was Harold Lawton Basham. The death of 1st Lt. Walkup brings back memories of my family's loss. Uncle Harold was next to the youngest of four brothers in my Dad's family. He died in Vietnam in November of 1968 at the age of 22. He had only been there for 3 months. Even after many years it still brought tears to my dad's eyes when he spoke of him. My grandparents grieved for so many years over him. I remember as a little girl asking about him and no one wanting to talk about it because it hurt so much. I didn't understand the pain of losing someone you loved so much back then. I do now. I have lost all of my grandparents and my dad just passed away a month ago from a terminal illness. I am much like dad and grandparents. I find it difficult talking about someone I miss so badly. I do know though that in the long run, talking about it is part of the healing process so I strive to do so. I also think it is important to keep their memory alive and tell others about these men as a reminder that freedom is not free. There is a price to pay for it and for the families that lose their loved ones; they bear the burden of the payment. It is carried for a lifetime. You never stop missing them. We hear the saying that time heals and it is true to some extent that it does but every injury leaves a scar and that is carried to your own death. We should all make an effort on our country's day of celebration of freedom to remember those who personally know what it costs us to have freedom. Have you thought about purposely setting out to do something for a family who has paid the ultimate price?