Sunday, April 30, 2006
I’ve been an American all my life. I’ve been to 15 countries outside our borders. I’ve seen our land from Mainie to California. I’ve always been glad to be an American. I’ve realized it’s a gift a precious gift to be able to live here. I say I’ve always been glad to be an American, but until last Friday I was just glad, now I’m proud. I mean “swoll” up proud to see my flag, to wear this uniform, to serve with some fine men and women to be an American citizen/soldier. The reason for this is a kind of epiphany moment I had standing on the steps of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was standing there in my dress blue uniform hugging my daughter watching the changing of the guard. The reason for the “blues” is that we had just buried our friend, 1SG Bob Kuehne, in section 64 of Arlington National Cemetery. Bob was killed in a motorcycle wreck a month ago and his family asked me if I’d officiate the service. Its not something you’d ever say no to. We had a great turnout. People from SC drove up to DC at their own expense. I’m proud to serve with such. It really exemplified self-less service. It was a sad, but pride filled day. We were able to honor Bob and his family in the most hallowed ground our country has. It was humbling to say the least.
But up on those steps I stood watching the guard change. The precision is beyond belief. The attention to detail unmatched in the world. The honor and the gravity of the moment is hard to miss. I noticed teenagers acting like teenagers as they approached the tomb. They were just being young acting stupid. But when at the tomb, they stop and stare. To think that the tomb has been guarded the same way night and day since 1937 is an astounding thought. It is not lost on even the goofiest teenager. I stood there hugging my daughter, standing with my brothers. It dawned on me that I wore the same uniform as those guards, although not as neatly worn. I looked across the tomb and in the distance you can see the Capital of our country. It kind of hit me at once and I cried. I realized those warriors, those unknown soldiers had died so that I could look over that vista a free man. A free man hugging his daughter. A free man with friends beside him. A free man to worship my God. A free man to serve his country. It was not lost on me. If you have never been to Arlington National Cemetery, I encourage you to go. Stroll through those grounds and be thankful. Soak it all in, take a couple of days if necessary. Its worth it, it really is.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
I’ve been told that I needed to update my blog. So I wanted to take this opportunity to do some personality profiles of people I work with. This is not a place to exalt the egos of people I know, Army leaders rarely need that, its simply just a place to get some information out to my friends outside the Army about who I get to spend most of my days with. Today I am beginning with a really good friend. His name is Pete, he’s a Company Commander in a Basic Combat Training unit. He’s probably close to 30 now. He’s an infantry officer. He can tell you all the specs on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle with enthusiasm. He knows everything about small arms. He takes his job seriously, but always remembers to laugh. When times are hard he thinks of other people. I noticed this when we lost our friend Bob a few weeks ago. At the hospital all he did was offer ways of helping other soldiers who had to think about other things. He brought me breakfast when I needed to remain in place. He is hard on his “Joe’s” as the soldiers are sometimes called, but he’s fair. He places training first and is the first to recognize stuff that is stupid. He’s competitive as well. He runs faster than the Chaplain, but when I do run with them he never leaves me in the dust so as not to hurt my fragile 40 year old ego .
He’s also been a victim of the UMT Black Ops program as you can see in these pictures. I also believe that Easter is his favorite holiday!
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
It is with profound sadness that I report the death of 1SG Bob Kuehne. He was killed in a motorcycle accident this week. Its hard to put into words that typify him. I would say he was rough, tough, gentle, kind, abrasive, honest, hilarious, deep, simple, real and just a good friend. Chaplains have strained relationships with 1SG’s sometimes, but not me and Top. He would always ask me, “Chaplain, have you prayed for me today?” I’d always say, “Top, you need prayer!” He laughed out loud and long. He loved his daughter more than anything. She is blessing too. I had the privilege of meeting her at this tragic time. His brother, Chuck, is a retired Army LTC and looking at him you can’t miss the family resemblance. We spent all day today praying and crying and remembering Bob. It is a remarkable honor to be with people at this time in their lives. To be with a family at such a devastating time, to try to bring some healing, some comfort, is a task that I dearly love and hate at the same time. Romans 12:15 brings this ministry of presence home, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” Its a good thing to be with people. Its funny how all the stuff that seemed important a couple of days ago just fades. So today we weep and we mourn. We also remember our friend Bob. I’m a better person for having known him.
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