Pfc Shane M. Reifert

Pfc Shane M. Reifert
Shane during a sweep of the Shuryak Valley, approximately 3 weeks before he was killed. Photo Credit: PFC Sean Stromback

Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh, Dear Sister, Trouble Weighs a Ton

We sat in a room that was decorated in order to make its occupants feel as welcomed and relaxed as possible. The lighting was soothing. The colors were neutral. It made me want to vomit. We were at the funeral home, beginning to make arrangements for Shane's viewing. There are so many details that need to be worked out - picking a prayer card, listing the names of survivorship for an obituary, deciding viewing times. I wanted the boulder on my back to be lifted off. I didn't want to think about any of these things. I wanted to be melt down and be absorbed into the carpeting.

As we waited for the funeral director to enter, a man with an army hat entered the room. His face looked familiar but I could not place him. The man shook my father's hand. Dad turned to me, saying "this is Sergeant Williams." I thanked Sgt. Williams for his service, but it didn't click in my head who he was until he sat down. 

Click "read more" for my experience with Sgt. Williams and the day that my family dropped Shane off for BCT. 

This was Shane's recruiting officer who assisted Shane in joining the Army. This was the man that helped Shane do what he wanted to do with his life. As soon as I realized this, I proceeded to get up, telling Sgt. Williams that I was sorry I had not recognized him, hugging him tightly, and whispering to him, "Thank you for helping Shane live his dream." 

I don't know if it's standard protocol for a recruiting officer to take time away from his life and family to sit with the family of a deceased soldier. Something tells me that it's not. But the fact that Sgt. Williams was there at the funeral home today acted as yet another example of how much of an impact Shane had on people's lives. 

The last time that I had seen Sgt. Williams was when we dropped Shane off at the recruiting office in Port Huron for BCT. He was to be taken on a bus down to Fort Benning, Georgia, where he would begin his long trek to becoming a soldier. My parents and I were all trying to be strong, but then Shane had us listen to Dan Auerbach on the way to the recruiting office and we all got lost in the emotion of the lyrics and the soulfulness in Auerbach's voice, especially during "Trouble Weighs a Ton," yet another song I still cannot listen to. When we dropped Shane off, I did not so much care for Sgt. Williams. He was the man who was taking my baby brother away. Who had convinced him to join the Army and leave his family. 

But this second time around, I could not be more grateful for Sgt. Williams. With his assistance, Shane joined the Army. Sgt. Williams was honest with Shane and did not sugarcoat anything. I know Shane respected Sgt. Williams, and I felt honored to be meeting him again on Veterans Day to thank him not only for his service, but for helping my brother live out his dream. 

Below are the lyrics to the last song that my family listened to before dropping Shane off for BCT.

"Trouble Weighs A Ton" by Dan Auerbach
What's wrong, dear brother? Have you lost your faith?
Don't you remember a better place?
Needles and things, done you in
Like the setting sun
Oh, dear brother, trouble weighs a ton

What's wrong, dear sister? Did your world fall down?
Men misuse you and push you around
Same story dear, year after year
Faith will run
Oh, dear sister, trouble weighs a ton

Trouble in the air
Trouble all I see
Does anybody care
Trouble killin' me
Whoa, it's killin' me

What's wrong, dear mother? Has your child disobeyed?
Left you hurtin' in so many ways
What once was sweet, the sorrow and greet
Cannot be undone
Oh, dear mother, trouble weighs a ton
Oh, dear mother, trouble weighs a ton

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