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A Memorial Day Tribute to Our Troops

America IS America the Beautiful. We are a generous people, God-fearing souls, who, with love for mankind, strive to do our best, as we endeavor to scribe a positive mark on our world. On this Memorial Day holiday I salute America, my beloved country. With distinct pride in them, I pay tribute to our troops around the globe.

In a spirit of joy and thanksgiving, I bring words from Sgt. Mike Stutzke, 1st Cavalry Division, Baghdad, Iraq. May his upbeat words of thankfulness ricochet through our land, and ignite anew a spirit of gratitude and honor among us. Despite our dissimilar views on war, may we this day, be in peace, and may our breasts swell with pride in our country and in the men, who today, stand in harm's way…for you…for me…and for our babies.

I am a member of the Washington National Guard, an infantry squad leader, assigned to the 1st Calvary Division, in Baghdad Iraq. After spending approximately 6 months in Iraq, I got to go home on leave. I had many people, strangers, walk up to me and thank me in a variety of different ways. I would like to share some of the experiences I had while traveling across our great country.

Some of the people would look at me, and quickly look away when I looked at them, eventually they would say something. Some would see me from across the airport or wherever I was, and make a B-line to me and say something. They all appeared to have nothing in common, some were old men, old women, young men and women and children. I enjoyed the children the most, the way they look at a soldier, with wide eyes and open admiration. I told each of them about my daughter who was at home who I was getting to see after a long time of being away from her.

Most started out the conversation by asking where I was going, or where I was coming from, others asked if I had been in Iraq. When I told people I was on leave from Iraq, they all made some kind of physical contact, shaking hands, putting a hand on my shoulder or arm, and a surprising number hugged me.

Some bought me drinks, some bought me lunch, some gave up their first class seat to me, some shared stories about their family members or friends who were in Iraq, and each asked me if I knew their family member or friends. Some asked for my address to send care packages to me and my platoon. All were incredibly polite, thankful, and inspiring.

Some, who spoke to me, did so with a red face, some with tears in their eyes, some crying. Each were, once again, inspiring.

The people who I spoke with made a lasting impression on my life, to me it was awe inspiring. I wish everyone could experience the love and appreciation I felt while traveling home to see my family.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the people who have inspired me.

To the people at the Bangor Maine airport, who where there at 5:30 am with coffee, cell phones, cookies, a handshake or a hug. THANK YOU!

To the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport fire department (real American heroes), who showered our plane with water, with their lights flashing, giving us a "heroes welcome". THANK YOU!

To the people at the Dallas/Ft.Worth airport, who applauded, shouted, held up "welcome home" banners, handed out water, and made us feel great. THANK YOU!

To the bartender who bought me a drink at the Sacramento airport, who only said to me, "Thanks" THANK YOU!

To the man at the Sacramento airport who spent almost 2 hours just visiting with me and insisted on getting my address so he and his company could send me and my platoon care packages. THANK YOU!

To the woman at the Sacramento airport who shared her stories of her family members who were in Iraq, shared her fears, hopes and dreams for when they came home. Who hugged me to the point where I didn't think she was going to let go. THANK YOU!

To the cab driver in Portland OR., who was a Vietnam vet., who I had to argue with to pay my cab fare. THANK YOU!

To my daughter, who nearly knocked me over at the airport. I LOVE YOU! THANK YOU!

To all my family who traveled from all over the state of Washington to have BBQ's with me. I LOVE YOU! THANK YOU!

To the TSA lady at the Spokane airport who shook my hand and hugged me on my way back to Iraq. THANK YOU!

To the maintenance supervisor at the Spokane airport who visited with me and bought my lunch. THANK YOU!

To the women who were going on vacation from Spokane who invited me to be in their group picture. THANK YOU!

To the many, many people at the Denver airport who spoke to me, thanked me, and told me they will pray for me and all the soldiers in Iraq. THANK YOU!

To the woman who approached my friend traveling back to Iraq with me, and said "Thank you." Then later returned and gave us a hundred dollar bill and said "I came across this unexpectedly and want you guys to buy lunch somewhere nice" Then quickly left the area with tears running down her face. THANK YOU!

To Keith, who I sat next to on one of the flights, who visited with me the whole flight, and offered many things, which I could not accept because I was reporting for duty. THANK YOU!

To my new friends at Belo interactive in Dallas. Who took my friend and me out, welcomed us, then opened their business to us, took us to lunch and just spent time hanging out with us. Who also send our whole platoon care packages every month. THANK YOU!

To all the people at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport who took time out of their schedules to visit with me. THANK YOU!

To all the flight crews who flew us overseas and back. THANK YOU!

To all Americans who support the American soldiers, simply because we are serving all over the world, who we will never meet, or get to personally thank for their enormous support. THANK YOU!

The support, love and respect that I received all across America, is humbling. To be treated like a hero for doing one's job, is something I wish everyone could experience. It is incredible. For the record, none of us consider ourselves heroes, we are just soldiers trying to do a job, then to get home to our families.

I know I've said it many times, but THANK YOU AMERICA.

A grateful American Soldier

Sgt. Mike Stutzke C Co 1-161 Infantry Baghdad, Iraq

Tags: Memorial+Day, Iraq, soldier, Mike+Stutzke, Baghdad, thankfulness, tribute, troops

By Shirley Buxton

Still full of life and ready to be on the move, Shirley at 83 years old feels blessed to have lots of energy and to be full of optimism. She was married to Jerry for 63 years, and grieves yet at his death in August of 2019. They have 4 children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren...all beautiful and highly intelligent--of course. :)

14 replies on “A Memorial Day Tribute to Our Troops”

That’s my recruiter!
He’s honest, respectful, driven, and all around a good guy. SFC Stutzke is a role model for any american soldier, and he also is to me. Im glad iv had the opportunity to get to know him.

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I too thank God for the wonderful priveledge of living in America, the land of the free. If any service members read this post please accept my gratitude. You are never forgotten.
Our flag was waving proudly from our porch all day. In your honour and to those who are our fallen heros. God bless America.

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Beautiful post once again, I too am proud to be called an american and am forever indebted to the brave men who fight for my freedoms, even as I write this in my safe,secure home that we call the USA! Thanks to all who have sacraficed for me and my family and loved ones.
P.S. To daniel how refreshing to here a young man with pride and integrity at such a young age, you will surely be something great for this country.
AP

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Carol, what a touching post. I’m having company up for dinner today and cannot do it, but I have resolved that some Memorial Day, I am going to a national cemetery.

Alex and Daniel, thanks for waving those flags and for loving our country.

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Last year, on Memorial Day, we went to the National Cemetery in San Francisco. It was the first time the kids had been to a National Cemetery. As we looked among what seemed like endless rows of tombstones, I saw this very solemn spirit come over my son. He didn’t have to say anything, because I knew what he was thinking. He had just received a revelation that all these tombstones represented men who had given their lives to defend our country. He walked around with his dad picking up little flags near some of the tombstones that had become bent with the wind. It was the most memorable Memorial Day I’ve ever had.

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We live in a great country… a free country. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how blessed this nation really is. We are still the nation that inspires hope and liberty in the world. So today, honor those that serve and have died to bring us that hope and freedom! Have a great day!

PS – Got the flag flying high! 😉

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wow wow wow wow u really most love the country u r in which u have to because it is the best country in the whole world. memorial day is a time for memory. my grandpa served in world war 2 and he survived but he died a couple years ago so i pray today to feel him back in my heart as well as everyone else that has died in the wars for our country if u read this post thank u all u mighty men

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