1942. The year Fort Hood was built. But 2001 - 2017 are the years I am concerned with.
214,000 acres. But a small patch of grass just inside the main gate of the post is the only parcel of land on my mind.
325.4 million people. But those 7,000 boots. 7,000 fallen. 7,000 Soldiers.
Named after Confederate General John Bell Hood as a credit to his reputation as one of the greatest Generals of the Confederate Army and the American Civil War...but it is our Nation's most recent wars, her modern day bravest men and women who command my attention, my admiration, my emotion.
Each year the Fort Hood MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) and the family of volunteers take the time to pay homage to those who marched to the drums, cried "Havoc!" and were America's Dogs of War. They honor those who left with their shield and returned upon it. Flags forward into battle, now folded and upon a mantle.
Too often we sit back and watch as news feeds scroll the numbers of our honored dead...and they remain a number. Estimates and projections are mere abstractions and concepts blindly employed to blunt the edge and dull the sting of the funeral march. Instead let us call roll and hear the deafening silence of a name gone unclaimed. Let us stand smartly and salute sharply as the bugle sings the tune of Taps. Let not the day pass without a thought. The night fade without remembrance. Remember Them.
When I arrived in the morning I had to take a minute as the sight and reality pervaded my heart with immense force. I have had the honor of serving as an NCOIC (Noncommissioned Offcier in Charge) of a funeral team. I have folded and presented flags to 8 year old boys and 80 year old widows. I was prepared for the boots. I was not prepared for the memorials to them. The pictures beside them. The messages upon them.
I remain at a loss for words. My hands reach for a goal unattainable as only the soul can give voice.
You are always close. In that place where the eyes are blind, ears are deaf but the heart remembers. For now, let my tongue be silent and my pen be still.