This is going to be a much more sobering, yet personally important post than I typically give you, but trust me, it is worth it!
A few weekends ago, my husband and I spent some time in Washington D.C., (alone! :)) for our anniversary. Though we visited a variety of places, our last stop of the trip was the most important to me…time spent at a grave in Arlington National Cemetery.
When I was a freshman in high school, many upperclassmen were intimidating, had loads of friends and were essentially much “too cool” to be bothered with little newbies such as myself. One young man, however, broke that mold and I will always remember him for it. Jeremy Campbell was a tall, friendly, perpetually smiling young man who never hesitated to make friends or to offer a grin. The editor of the school newspaper, he was smart and well-liked…an all around wonderful person. As I got to know him, he shared with me that his parents has passed away when he was small and he had lived with his Grandparents ever since. Learning this was quite a shock, as his positive attitude never hinted at such a personal loss, and I began to realize what an amazing character he really was. Though Jeremy and I never socialized outside of school and even there, never got terribly close, he made my time as a freshman more joyful and I was always grateful to him for that.
Jeremy graduated from high school years ahead of me and we lost touch. I did hear news, here and there, that he had entered the military, was loving it and doing well. Time passed and I graduated, entering college in the fall of 2005. A few weeks into that first semester, I heard of Sgt. Jeremy M. Campbell’s death, serving our country in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Though we had not been in contact for years, this loss was a hard one for me. This young, bright light, a member of our small, rural community, taken at such an early age. It had been my intention to visit Jeremy’s grave in Arlington for a long time, but I never had the opportunity to do so until this past month. It was a truly moving experience. The sheer number of service members laid to rest there from the most recent war/conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan is staggering. Many, like Jeremy, barely past their 21st birthdays. Of course, I felt sadness and sorrow for those loved ones left behind, it is terribly emotional. More than anything however, I felt gratitude and pride for these men and women who so unselfishly laid down their lives to serve and protect our nation and what our system of values and beliefs represents. I am so proud to be raising my child in a safe and free country that was earned through the sacrifice of these brave service members. I would encourage you all to visit Arlington if you have not, and to seek out the section dedicated to these most recent losses to our American family. I look forward to bringing my little man there soon, sharing with him Jeremy’s story and the importance of honoring those buried around him.
More information on Sgt. Campbell and his Memory can be found here: