Pass It On is a new, bi-weekly peek inside the heart and mind of Francis Pass…
What I remember most about those first hours in country—as clear to me still as they were in 1967—were the stars. Thousands of ‘em. Maybe millions of ‘em. And the quiet.
Here I was, padded down on a pile of banana leaves in some place called Loc Ninh, ordered to try and get some rest before ambush patrol, and I was stunned… maybe even dazzled… by all those stars and all that quiet.
It could’ve been Dongola, but it wasn’t, and of course, it wasn’t long before the sounds of silence were pierced by sounds of pain… sounds of hatred… sounds of (trails off… long pause…) sounds… that have never left me. I hope and pray to God we never hear those sounds here at home.
“God,” I thought, still as naïve as a poet pondering the heavens, “they’re out here trying to kill us.”
I don’t begrudge people who celebrate or party on Memorial Day… not at all… in fact, while I’m not the smartest fella, I like to think I know a little better than a lot of folks whywe should enjoy each other’s company and perhaps even a cold beverage or two.
Because I know at least a little of what has been given. I have heard, seen, smelled, touched, and tasted death, loss, and fear, but also fellowship, fealty, and a fighting spirit which has forever sharpened all my senses.
I was born in Dongola—a town of 750. We lost 730 from The Blackhorse Regiment in the 11thArmored Cav.
It was not Dongola.
And so, if I can ask two things of you this Memorial Day week, I reckon it would be these:
- Remember: This country is an idea… an idea that has lit the world for almost 250 years, and that idea must be protected—not just by our military—but by each of us.
- Live with Honor: Do right by your neighbor. Treat others the way you wish to be treated. Take on today with fellowship, fealty, and a fighting spirit that shapes yoursenses… including your common sense.
Again, I’m no Rhodes scholar, but if enough of us set big examples in little ways… and model the behavior we wish to see in others, then maybe, maybe my hopes and prayers will be answered.
If it’s not too much trouble, may I ask a third thing before I let you go today?
Tonight… if not tonight then one evening this week… sit out under the stars… listen to the quiet… and thank God for it.
Just as I will thank God tonight for you.
Thanks for listening,
Oh, and PS – The Blackhorse Memorial is at Ft. Bening, Georgia. It honors my friends… my brothers… my memories. For more photos and info about the memorial, please visit www.Blackhorse.org.