Holiday Theme

Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 10:10 AM.

We read, watch and hear their stories of battles in foreign lands, but we don’t, we can’t, fully appreciate the experience, the mind-set, the motivation required to defend your country, to sacrifice all for your fellow American, fellow man.

You can’t know until you have walked in their boots.

The price paid by men and women, who have fought and been seriously hurt – while many of their comrades have died – to provide the backbone to basic rights we enjoy, rights that seem under attack, the right to free speech, freedom to worship where we choose, a free press.

Memorial Day’s meaning was driven home to me since I came to Port St. Joe, one of the first stories I wrote for The Star, about the death of Christopher Blaschum, a Lieutenant Commander and Navy pilot who died while on training exercises in the Mediterranean.

He was a graduate of Port St. Joe High School who was known for his infectious laugh, out-sized personality and among the first of what has become the thousands of those who died in the wars that followed 9/11.

His funeral was in large part a celebration of his life and mourning of his passing, but also a heart-rending testament to the sacrifices of the soldier. Once the uniform is donned, soldier cuts to the front of the line from adjectives such as son, father, husband, wife, sister, brother and mother.

The uniform wipes it all away.

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