Memorial Day | Military | Suicide | Please, talk

JD Schramm shares a story. Please listen well.

As a nation we pause on Memorial Day and remember those who have died in combat. They died in order that we may continue to enjoy the many freedoms of our democracy. While pausing to remember the sacrifices made on our behalf I am put in mind of those who are now serving or who have served both here and abroad and who have been changed and struggle.

The evidence is clear that suicides by members of the military are rising. See, for example this NY Times article: Baffling Rise in Suicides Plagues the U.S. Military. That those who serve us or who have served us are placed in such peril is something we need to talk about.

[About suicide]: Perhaps no other life-threatening condition on the planet can be so positively impacted by honest, forthright and intimate conversations with friends, loved-ones, clients and colleagues. As we do this, we demystify suicide. We render it approachable by creating a net of understanding so strong and a willingness to intervene imbued with such resolve, that people can no longer fall through the cracks.

Preface, Waking Up Alive Kindle Edition by Richard Heckler

At the start of this Memorial Day Weekend I was sent a post from the TED Blog: TED Weekends breaks the silence for suicide survivors. JD Schramm, the speaker, points out that “19 out of 20 people who attempt suicide live but feel extreme isolation from others. This can lead to second, sometimes successful, attempt.”  Follow the link to view Schramm’s TED Active Talk (from Palm Springs in 2011). Additional links are provided in the post so that you may continue the conversation he begins. His story is compelling, you will not be able to forget it.

May his talk encourage our action, especially for those who serve us or have served us in the military and now find themselves in a battle for their very life.

Do you have resources that may help someone who attempted suicide and survived? Please share this resource in the Comment section. Thank you.

Image source

Memorial Day invokes “crucial” memories

[The Rev. Bob Blessing’s] most recent tour of duty in Iraq included a considerable amount of both explosions and shootings, prompting a serious “reflective mode” as he observes the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. “I’m really dealing with life and resurrection. Remembering all the lives and how they served, to me, is crucial,” he said during a May 25 telephone interview.

Like his former battalion commander who died when his vehicle hit a land mine. … And the Iraqi translator. “Her name was Sarah, like my daughter. She was killed when a bomb went through her face, literally, and blew her apart. She kept our guys alive and gave the ultimate sacrifice, trying to keep peace for her people.”

Blessing, rector of St. Andrew’s Church in La Mesa, California, in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, said that he’ll pause this Memorial Day to remember not only the dead but also the living, and their huge sacrifices.

Let us pause as well and remember and pray and work as we can and even more diligently to extend God’s Peace, God’s Reign to all People.

Read the interview: Episcopal News Service – NEWS.

Read my Reflections: Memorial Day 2010 and The War Dead

The war dead

I encourage you to move beyond statistics and let your heart open to the loss of those men and women who have died in  Iraq and Afghanistan serving our country. The “war dead” have names and stories and deserve to be remembered.

Remembering those who died in Vietnam

Let us remember them.

Memorial Day Weekend

No matter what you may think of war or of the current conflicts, men and women, our spouses or family members, our neighbors, our coworkers and friends, have gone to fight for us. Some have died for us. Let us remember their courage and their sacrifice whether in Northern Africa, Europe or the Pacific, Korea or Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, or in other parts of the world where duty led them, let us always remember them.

Purple Heart MedalAn Act of Remembrance

Let us remember before God,
and commend to his sure keeping:
those who have died for their country in war;
those whom we knew,
and whose memory we treasure;
and all who have lived and died
in the service of mankind.

They shall grow not old
as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
We will remember them.

We will remember them.

Source: The Royal Army Chaplains’ Department

Remembering one soldier

We are often given numbers of dead, both civilian and military. We can easily become numb, overwhelmed, indifferent, uncaring as the numbers come at us. They’re just numbers. On this Memorial Day Weekend I would like to remember one soldier, 23 year old Mark J. Daily, grandson of one of St. Margaret’s (Palm Desert) parishioners. I never met Mark, but I will never forget him. I believe that many of you reading this know men and women, killed in the line of duty, who make real the cost of war, who change statistics into personal loss, who reveal the price of freedom, who demonstrate the courage of which we are capable, and who inspire the best in us because we have seen the best in them. I encourage you to leave a name, or a name and a short story in the comments section. We will remember….

Mark J. DailyJanuary 18, 2007 an account in the OC Register

IRVINE – Mark J. Daily’s last e-mail to his family was brief.

“All is well,” he wrote. “More war stories than I can fit in this e-mail. Having the time of my life!”

The 23-year-old was killed Monday [1/15/2007] when a bomb ripped through his military vehicle in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, officials said Wednesday.

Daily had been in Iraq for only three months.

Family and friends of the lifelong Irvine resident took some solace in his final message.

“He sincerely believed in what he was doing and wanted to finish the job and come home,” Mark’s father, John F. Daily, said in brief comments outside his home Wednesday.

He was too distraught to talk in detail about the Woodbridge High School graduate and the second of his four children – a young man who had been married for only 18 months and who joined the Army after the United States declared war on Iraq in 2003.

In a detailed, eloquent explanation of why he volunteered to go to Iraq, Mark wrote on a Web site that he felt compelled to do his part in trying to better a country plagued by interregional hatred and genocide.

“If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience, then consider me the exception,” he wrote.

“Don’t forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed,” he added. “Don’t overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war, but don’t cheapen the moral aspects either.”

Mark, a second lieutenant, recently had been reassigned to a riskier role in combat duty when an improvised explosive device killed him, relatives and the Department of Defense said Wednesday.

He is the latest of more than 30 U.S. military personnel with Orange County ties to have died during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Few details were available about the blast that killed Mark and three other soldiers attached to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Bliss, Texas.

Cars spilled out of the driveway of the Daily residence Wednesday as a stream of solemn visitors paid their respects to the family, well-known in the Woodbridge community where they have lived for years.

Mark attended Stonecreek Elementary School and Lakeside Middle School before going to Woodbridge High, according to close family friend Carolyn McInerney, whose children grew up with the Daily kids.

Mark loved sports, particularly baseball.

“He was a remarkable young man – just awesome,” said McInerney, struggling to remain composed as a breeze gently moved the U.S. flag hanging outside the Dailys’ two-story home.

“They’re just a remarkable family,” McInerney said. “They are pillars of the community – the nicest people you’ll ever meet.”

A close friend of Mark embraced John Daily, who works in defense contracting, as he briefly talked about his son. Mark’s mother, Linda, an audiologist, remained secluded inside.

Mark’s wife, Snejana “Janet” Hristova Daily, 21 – a graduate of USC whom he met at an Irvine restaurant – also was too distraught to speak to a reporter.

The two got married in July 2005 on a boat in Newport Harbor.

Mark has an older sister, Christine, 25, a teacher in Tustin; a brother, Eric, 20, a junior at UC Berkeley; and a sister, Nicole, 16, a junior at Irvine High School.

After spending two years at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, where he was active in student government, Mark was accepted into the ROTC program at UCLA.

He was named the ROTC’s outstanding cadet for 2005 and also a Distinguished Military Graduate, the highest honor the ROTC awards.

On his Web site, Mark listed his top interests as family, peace and progress.

He said his heroes were immigrants who risk their lives to achieve better ones.

He wrote that those who still don’t get why he volunteered to go to Iraq should at least wish him good luck.

A week before he was killed, Mark’s wife posted a message on his Web site.

“I love you … plain and simple,” she wrote.

Tuesday, Mark was awarded a Purple Heart, the U.S. military decoration given to those wounded or killed while serving in the military.

A blue star hanging in the front window of the Daily house signifies that one of their children is serving overseas in the military. The tradition was started during World War II by the Blue Star Mothers of America.

John Daily looked at the window Wednesday.

“Gold etching,” he said, referring to the color that the star will be changed to in order to signify that a solider had died in combat.

He broke down, then walked back inside his house.

30 May 2010 – Additional remembrance and links in the Los Angeles Times