A couple of months ago, we traveled to Fort Campbell. It was a trip which I needed to make to help with my healing process. We drove through continuous rains as if the heavens were crying with me. My heart was so heavy, so wanting and waiting to feel whole again.
The drive to Kentucky was beautiful; the colors of fall still remained on the branches. Through the raindrops I wondered where all the other people were going on their travels. Were they going to work or a day of errands or on a trip of discovery?
We arrived at Fort Campbell in time for a ceremony for the Gold Star Families. This was not the reason for our trip, but we felt it was important to attend the ceremony. We were honored to be escorted by CPT Sean Hinrichs, who was Shane’s platoon leader. I am sure that Sean’s parents are as proud of their son as we are of Shane. And now I finally had the opportunity to meet the man who spent so many hours with my son.
The ceremony was very moving and, at the end, a family member placed a yellow rose inside the blue star. When I returned to my chair, I felt so small and was so glad to be able to hold Kurt’s hand.
Sean then took us to the site of the monuments for the fallen Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), 327th Infantry Regiment. This was my reason to venture to Fort Campbell; the trip gave me an opportunity to lay my hands on a monument. It is the monument that bares the names of the Soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Operation OEF XI May 2010 – May 2011. The monument is inscribed on both sides with the men who gave their lives for honor and country.
It bares Shane’s name. And then a Merlin caught my eye – it flew low and settled in a pine tree. At that moment, I felt a wave of peace come over me. It is a fleeting thing, but I am so grateful for those precious moments of peace. I began to grasp that brotherhood of honor, duty, and commitment.
Later in our visit, we got to meet Shane’s brothers-in-arms and their families. We spent lunches and dinners in conversations wrapped in love and respect. We laughed and we cried. I was able to put faces and voices to the men; the men so important to Shane. We were invited over to Doc’s house; a house filled with love.
I was now able to fully realize that I will never truly understand this brotherhood, but that is okay because it is something only the men of the 101st Airborne Division, 1/327th, Bravo Company – those Bushmaster Brothers can understand.
Each of the men will forever hold a special place in my heart. I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to witness the brotherhood.
As we drove home, the skies were no longer pouring rain; instead, the sun was poking through the clouds as my thoughts drifted in and out of peace.
As I continue to “put one foot in front of the other.”
Always and forever,
Shane’s Mammy and Beth’s Momma