There is a soldier from Matthews, NC who was killed in Afghanistan December 12, four years after he was wounded in Iraq, for which he received the Purple Heart.  CPL Joshua Blaney returned home today in a flag draped coffin.  Why am I blogging about this?  It’s because I am the Blue to Gold liaison for my chapter of Blue Star Mothers group.  I’ve sent condolence cards for fallen heroes in the past but this time is different for me.  Tomorrow, Fed Ex will deliver 5 Gold Star Service Banners to my office to be presented to CPL Blaney’s family at his funeral on Friday.  I was not able to be at the airport when this hero returned home but tomorrow night I will be at a funeral home paying respects to a family whom I’ve never met.  It seems no matter what we do, it simply will not be enough as this family is dealing with most ultimate sacrifice of freedom.  I’m the only spouse in BSM-NC and while I don’t know the heartache of sending a child to war, only my husband and best friend, my heart aches no less for their loss.  I’ve found that the ties that bind us to our military families are just as strong as those that bind us to our immediate families, sometimes stronger, and our job as family is to stand tall for those who stand for us and even taller for those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. 

In the coming weeks, I will also be working with another BSM to put together a condolence/memory book for this hero’s family.  There are no politics to be discussed, no opposition to express…simply remembering a Soldier who died for what he believed in.

SSG Michael Gabel was with CPL Blaney when their vehicle was blown up by an IED.  SSG Gabel gave the eulogy for his best friend at a memorial service that honored three men who lost their lives in October. 

 “I will not be bitter,” Gabel said. “I will not shed any tears of sorrow. I’m proud to have known such a good man and a warrior to the bitter end. Until we see each other again, sky soldiers!”

There will be similar words spoken for both these heroes in the coming days.

I lift these families, immediate and extended, in prayer.