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Ramp Ceremony

by Brittany Schick

Standing at parade rest in the dark Afghan night, watching the spotlight illuminate the colors at half mast slowly waving with the breeze… It wasn’t the hundreds of camouflage-clad souls standing around me to pay their respects to their fallen comrade that choked me up, or the roll-call of his name followed by eerie silence, or the bugler’s perfect tribute through taps.  No, it was when they read that he was born in 1989…  1989.  I have a baby brother who was born in 1989.  1989 wasn’t really that long ago…  It wasn’t nearly enough life for this young man to have lived.  It was 23 short years, 5 of which he had spent in the service of his nation.  What if he had been MY little brother?  MY smiling blue-eyed baby brother with the curly brown hair and the pudgy little hands; the one who had started out as a little guy talking with a lisp and smiling with a cute under bite, who was now a man, standing much taller than me, and smiling with the confidence of youth.  What if HE were gone forever, killed on foreign soil in the dark of the night fighting insurgents?  I saw the feeds — I watched this other man, someone else’s brother, get gunned down…and now I was standing at attention with hundreds of others, others who didn’t really know the full story.  But did it matter how it happened?  Did it matter how he had died that night, thousands of miles away from all those who would have wanted to be at his side?  No, not really.  What matters to his wife, mother, father, and brothers — biological and those in-arms — is that he is gone.

Brittany Schick deployed to Bagram AB in 2012 as a Captain in the USAF. She is currently stationed in Haiti as a Foreign Service Officer with her husband and daughter.

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