I’ve walked around with guilt the past couple of weeks. It seemed like our whole community was coming together to tag boots, count boots, set boots out. While the big girls did go help for a couple of hours, I never made it up the hill to tag, count or donate. The Remembrance Run came and went very early on a rainy Saturday morning. It was also a Saturday full of soccer, sending Ray off to the airport and other things. And so…it crossed my mind but I didn’t tie my shoes that morning. There is something about the thought the visual gives, running the Ford Island Bridge as it was lined with a boot for every soldier that’s died in combat since 9-11. Their faces staring out at you, flags waving from each boot, leis on some, wishes are prayers on others. The weight of it seems to crush my spirit a bit.
I don’t know if it’s because we drive past the Arizona nearly every day or if it’s just being steeped thick in the military community here, I didn’t want 9-11 to pass without doing something. Three of my four kids weren’t even born when it happened. I wonder if one day they will look at me glossy eyed like I must have looked when older generations were discussing World War II. I want them to be aware, not just of the people who died on 9-11 but of each soul that gave their life trying to ensure that we find our peace and keep our freedom. So, between piano and soccer practice, I drove across the Ford Island bridge and stopped just short of the Aviation Museum. That’s where they all sit for the time being. The flags glimmer in the setting the sun.
Somehow my kids just knew it was somber.
We walked through each row looking at the faces. We walked through the six months that Ray was there and it was almost more than I could stand. Hanan found the favorite boot she tagged. The picture was of a soldier holding a goat. I had to explain why one boot held a beer and an open can was left beside it. We found Michael Murphy’s boot.
We paid our respects. It was a little difficult for Jack considering he could see the Aviation museum and really wanted to go over to check out the planes and firetruck but he made it. Bria asked lots of questions about Ray being in Iraq. I said of prayer of thanks that he didn’t have a boot that we would have to decorate.
It was truly touching and sobering. I hope I can do the run next year, but honestly I don’t think I could run for crying. Some gave all. All gave some and I am forever grateful for each of them. We will never forget.