I am a proud member of the United States Army Special Forces. I am a combat veteran, a modern warrior, and a quiet professional who has served our country for the past 24 years.
I do not need a designated day to remember. I remember the sacrifice of my brothers and sisters in arms and their families everyday.
When I witness the sunrise and wake my children with a kiss, I remember.
When I hold my wife and tell her I love her, I remember.
When I feel the rain on my face and boundless beauty of our nation, I remember.
When I smile at my neighbor down the street and tell her “thank you” for lending a hand or shouldering a burden, I remember.
I remember the day when I took the oath, “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” I and my comrades took this oath freely, fully knowing the risks and sacrifices our nation would ask of us. We love our nation, we love our fellow citizens, and we love each other.
Everyday I am reminded of the sacrifices of Staff Sergeant Mike Simpson, Captain Dan Eggers, Captain Jeremy Chandler, CW2 Bruce Price, Sergeant First Class Mark Jackson, Lieutenant Colonel Todd Clark, and Lieutenant Colonel Jaimie Leonard.
I hold onto their memory, cherish our connection, and ask for their wisdom. Everyday I draw strength from their sacrifice and inspiration from their embodiment of selfless service, courage, and love.
I recognize and embrace the warrior that I have become through my combat experiences. I value the richness of my relationships, bonds that will never be broken, with those killed in action and all the Green Berets with whom I have been been honored to serve.
During my yoga and meditation practice, I remember the oppressed we’ve freed, all the people we’ve touched, those who’s daily lives were void of the freedoms we enjoy.
I remember that my teammates died for the freedom to disagree, the right to speak our minds without persecution, and the right to engage in civil discourse without fear of reprisal.
No one among us understands sacrifice, love for country, and the importance of connection more than Gold Star Survivors (families of the fallen) and warriors. Connect with them. Recognize their wisdom as a gift to your community and our nation.
Fifteen years ago, as our combat experiences began, we never imagined that we were entering a war that has come to be the longest in the history of our nation. Regrettably, our nation’s wars will continue, and every Memorial Day the list of those who’ve died in service to our country will grow longer.
My request is that today you take a moment to reflect. Reflect and gently ask yourself, ‘How can I serve my nation? How can I help heal my family, my neighborhood, my community, and my country?’
I know Warriors at Ease is fully committed to supporting the health, healing, and resiliency of warriors and their families and dedicated to strengthening the connection between veteran and civilian communities.
God bless all our fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines as well as their families. Thank you. Be at peace.
De Oppresso Liber,
Lieutenant Colonel James “Jamie” Alden, U.S. Army Special Forces
(This post was originally published as a tribute on Memorial Day 2017. James Alden is now a member of the Army of the United States Army (AUS) Retired List. Use of his military rank and job title does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense).