Thursday, January 20, 2011


 The Department of Defense announced yesterday the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  Cpl. Joseph C. Whitehead, 22, of Axis, Ala., died Jan. 17 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

 More than anything, I wanted to let you know about Cpl. Joseph C. Whitehead's death.  You probably  don't know him, I don't either, but that's not the point.  What is most important, is that we take the time to reflect on the freedom so many have provided for us.  Cpl. Whitehead was a mother's son.....that in itself should be enough to make you stop and think.  And so it continues..........

The number of U.S. soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan recently surpassed the 1,400 figure.  In Iraq, that number is somewhere over 4,400.  That's nearly 6,000 troops that have lost their lives supporting the cause of our country.   MERCY.

Now, let me help you bring these facts a little bit more in focus.  If you ever find yourself in Santa Barbara, California on a weekend, saunter over to the pier area.  You'll be amazed and speechless as to what you see. 

Several years ago, a group of U.S. veterans against the war began placing a candle and cross in the sandy beach for every serviceman's death from Afghanistan and Iraq.  The memorial is a makeshift graveyard that is put up and taken down each weekend.  It takes 3 hours to erect the make-shift graveyard each weekend and a little less time to take it down.  Each and every weekend this takes place.  Volunteers sleep at the site to make sure no one vandalizes the grounds.  Every cross has name, rank, age, date of death and how the death occurred on it.  The veterans capped the number of crosses erected at 3,000 at Santa Barbara’s Arlington West, but still the display is more than powerful in conveying the ultimate loss.

3,000 Crosses dot the beach at Santa Barbara Pier

Santa Barbara Arlington West has not lived without its critics.  Some see it as a failed attempt to give War a face.....others are critical of the bad press Santa Barbara has received because of it.  It should be noted, though, that this memorial silently asks the question, Why War......and demands a credible answer.

Several months ago when our family was returning home from the graduation of our middle son, Jonathan, from Basic,  I spent time in the backseat of our vehicle searching for a Bible verse concerning wisdom.  I was looking for words that would help bring his career choice, it's danger and our lives into perspective.  Within minutes, I ran across Ecclesiastes 7:2

"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man, the living should take this to heart."

I don't agree with all that War represents.....and I'm certainly not a Peace Protester.  What I do know, is that, the above words from Ecclesiastes gives me solace at the right time to understand our mortality.  For me, that's the kind of wisdom I can live with.



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