This is the final image of my little piece here.
In this image, you see the three things I am most proud of:
That's my right shoulder you're looking at. On that shoulder is what is commonly referred to as a "combat patch." When a unit patch is worn on the right shoulder, it signifies that the wearer has been to combat with this unit. This patch, The "A" of the First Army, the patch that represents my unit, Charlie Company 3rd of the 172nd Mountain Infantry, also represents the men I went to war with. It represents the 180 brave soldiers that lived and fought beside me for a year in one of the worst places on Earth. 180 of us went to Iraq, 180 of us came home. The worst of them and the best of them, they are my brothers forever (including my Real brother Ken, who is now a brother twice over). I am proud to wear that patch on my right shoulder and give honor to my brothers.
Below my combat patch is the America Flag. I am not a flag waver. I have never flown a flag, or even owned a flag, but I am proud to wear this flag on my shoulder. Whatever reasons the government had for sending us to Iraq doesn't really matter to me at this point. We helped the people of Iraq while we were there, and we saved more lives than we took. More people looked on me with respect than with hatred. More people looked at that flag with thanks rather than violence in their hearts.
And finally, there is the most important reason I have for anything I do, my beautiful wife Stace. This war was hard on me, but it was worse on Stace.
There were no care packages for Stace. No welcome home ceremony. No messages of thanks and praise. No websites for her to post to. No symbol on her shoulder to tell people what she was doing, and who she was. She served silently, secretly and without reward. What I left undone at home, she finished. She made sure my life would continue as normal while I was away.
She purchased a house, alone. She had the house renovated, alone. She moved us into that house, alone. She paid the bills, fed the cats, and went on with her life as best she could, every day expecting that horrible knock on the door, or terrifying phone call. Her nights were filled with the worst images you can conjure. In her mind, I was in constant danger. She never rested. She waited and hoped. Through all of this, she supported me completely. I left her to fight a war that she didn't believe in, to fight for a President that she didn't vote for, to fight for a people she didn't know, to fight for a cause that was not hers - but she supported my decision. I came home with medals pinned on my chest, with the thanks of a nation and a people, with the knowledge that I saved lives and did the right thing in my heart. Stace had none of this. No sense of honor or glory. No medals, no citations signed by Colonels and Generals, no hugs or handshakes - nothing. Stace is the true hero of this story. Her shining smile is the only thanks I need. Her laugh is the only praise I ask for.
If you haven't guessed by now, I love Stace.
I want to thank all of you for your support and kindness. Thanks for reading and caring. Thanks for your comments.
Thank you Rich for helping me with this project.
That's all for now,
SPC Patrick Kinsella
C/3-172nd Infanty, Mountain
"Ascend to Victory"
We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
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