by Kimberly A. Cook (Twitter@ WarriorTales)
In my closet hangs a beautiful multi-colored scarf I bought in a beach-side shop in Nice, France in 1983. It shimmers in the light and is one of my favorite souvenirs from that three-month camping trip in Europe.
Dallas, Texas always reminds me of sprinting through its huge airport to try to get from gate to gate to catch a connecting flight for desert training with the Air Force Reserve.
Never having stepped foot in Louisiana, I got a taste of it when Pops Borskey, a Louisiana native and World War II Seabee, hauled my butt from Cimarron, New Mexico to Washington, D.C. in May 1998 in his red chase truck while we were on the Run For The Wall to honor POWs and MIAs.
Images, memories and places all tied together now in a matter of days because of tragedy. What struck me so hard about two of these nightmares was realizing military veterans killed their fellow military veterans and police officers.
First my condolences to the families, friends and co-workers of the fallen. Law enforcement members are a tight family and they all bleed for each other, literally.
Freedom comes at a cost, both at home and around the world. But acts of evil are no reason to change our lives because if we do, evil wins.
We strive on. We honor the fallen and support their families, friends and communities. We must work to make sure we remain committed to each other, not divided.
As a young nation during the Civil War, brother fought against brother for the right of African Americans to be free people.
In that bloodiest of wars there were 2,213,363 Union soldiers and 1,050,000 Confederate soldiers. A total of 140,414 Union and 74, 524 Confederate battle deaths, plus 224,097 other Union and 59,297 Confederate deaths in theater.
A total of 498,332 lives lost from 1861 to 1865. The United States population in 1861 was 31,443,321. Our ancestors killed almost sixteen percent of the entire population of this country; fighting ourselves for the rights of one race to be free.
We cannot go back to fear and hate, we must move forward. Losing one life is too many. We must open our hearts and minds and truly listen to each other. We have to work together to speak frankly and exercise our empathy toward all.
In my wallet I carry a laminated letter to Ann Landers from April 18, 1990.
Dear Ann Landers: Recently you printed that wonderful quote from Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
I can’t resist the temptation to add these words from a speech by William Faulkner when his daughter, Jill, graduated from high school: “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world, in thousands of rooms like this one, would do this, it would change the earth.”
Let’s honor the lives of the Americans we’ve lost by forging stronger communities. Let’s look inward to our own prejudices and listen outside of ourselves to learn how we can stop those whose pain, anger and mental health issues are so great they speak with violence instead of words.
Let’s change the earth, our nation and ourselves; one mind at a time. We owe it to those we’ve lost too soon.