RSS

Rouge, Blanc et Bleu

24 May

I’m a sap. I admit it.

I’m patriotric to a fault. And, Memorial Day is particularly thought-provoking for me. When Mini-DD was but a boy, I would talk to him on Memorial Day to discuss the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day. Memorial Day is when we honor those who have died defending our freedoms and way of life. Veterans’ Day honors all those who have fought to defend, living or dead. Subtle, yet significant difference.

I learned the difference when I was 19. As hard as it is for me to admit, 25 years ago last Saturday, I graduated from high school (Geaux Spartans!). Growing up in Southwest Louisiana, we didn’t miss much fun. Our class was particularly great and in that summer of 1982, we set out to conquer the world. I went straight to work and prepared to be married in the fall. (Yes, I WAS that stupid.) We partied all summer and in September, had a hum-dinger of a party to send one of our best friends off into the Marine Corps.

He and I had been friends since 9th grade Algebra. I “liked” him, liked him but he was pretty shy and reserved and didn’t reciprocate, so after a short time we became good friends instead. We were in the same homeroom and we shared classes through the years. Virtually every weekend, our big group of friends “hung out” together and enivitably, he and I would end up paling around. He even set me up with his totally cute cousin for one particular party.

Of course, we were all gung ho and Semper Fi about our friend joining the Marines. At that time, joining the Marines was somewhat of a different tack for folks our age, but we thought it was honorable and cool. And we threw one hell of a going away party. Then, one short year later, this..

beirut2.jpg

In the early morning hours of October 23rd, 1983, a lone driver in a yellow Mercedes drove 12,000 lbs. of explosives into the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Mercifully, my friend, Lex David Trahan, slept in his bunk only a few hundred yards from impact, so he likely didn’t even know what hit him. However, in the blink of an eye, he was gone. This only child, who was due to ship home five days later never made it home for his extensively planned welcome home party. A couple of days later a Marine Chaplain and Lex’s recruiter drove up to his parents’ home to deliver the devastating news. Two days after that, his trunk of belongings arrived at his parents home. He had sent them ahead of his departure from Lebanon, anticipating that he’d catch up to them in a few short days.

It was tragic and devastating. It was the first time I had really experienced sudden death of someone so young and full of life, and so close to me. I have never forgotten Lex. I tell my son about him every Memorial Day and some nice fall October days when the wind blows and the leaves start to change. And, I will never forget. Without getting political, when people ask if we should be in Iraq or if we are really in a war with terrorists, I generally just answer yes, without letting them know that Lex’s bright shining blue eyes are staring at me in my mind.

There are so many Lexs in our country’s history. Please take a little time this weekend to reflect on all of those young lives that have been lost to protect our way of life.

beirut-ceremony-2004-photo-01.jpg

In honor of Memorial Day, here are a few songs to reflect upon. This one is likely my most favorite Ray Charles song of all.

 

My favorite version of the Star Spangled Banner

 

And….for Lex– We remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
11 Comments

Posted by on May 24, 2007 in memories, Uncategorized

 

11 responses to “Rouge, Blanc et Bleu

  1. brc

    May 25, 2007 at 6:32 am

    What a touching story. In the midst of all the cheesy Memorial Day sales in the stores and plans for picnics I think the real point of the day gets completely lost.

    Ray… America the Beautiful… sigh… ‘nuf said. I think this should be our national anthem.

    Had never heard that version of the Star Spangled Banner (is that Faith Hill)? My favorite version is Whitney Houston’s:

    I even have it on my iPod (shhhh don’t tell anyone). It gives me goosebumps every time.

    I couldn’t finish listening to the Battle Hymn of the Republic ’cause I got too emotional in my coffee.

    Thanks for reminding me of the real meaning of Memorial Day.

     
  2. double d

    May 25, 2007 at 7:19 am

    Yes brc, that’s Faith Hill. While I like Whitney’s version, as well, I really dig the bagpipes in this version. I have many of these kinds of songs on my iPod, ‘cuz as I said…I’m a patriotic sap. But, proud of it.

    As I’ve said before, my REAL favorite version of the SSB is LSU’s Tiger Stadium filled with 95,000 fans all singing in unison. I get goosebumps every time.

     
  3. manders!

    May 25, 2007 at 9:06 am

    Oh heck, D, I cry when I hear Billy Ray’s “Some Gave All”. I am as sappy as they come. I truly love my country, even with all of her faults.

    Yeah, brc, Ray can send you there like no one, can’t he?

     
  4. Dingo

    May 25, 2007 at 10:26 am

    I wept when I read your words DD. I wept for those who have died, those who will die and those who have broken my heart with their suffering. Im a Vietnam Era “child” and I can still remember the sight of the green Army car pulling up to my neighbor’s house with an officer and a chaplain in it. The rest is history.

    I think the most powerful words you typed were these…”However, in the blink of an eye, he was gone.”

    If we take nothing else from this, I hope everyone remembers how tenuous and how unpredictable life is. Never miss an opportunity to say I love you or to give an unsolicited hug or a smile.

    Its shorter than you know.

    And never send other people’s kids off to a war we arent willing to sacrifice our own children for.

     
  5. music maven

    May 25, 2007 at 11:01 am

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t make it clear that my friend, Lex, fully believed in what he was doing. He nobley talked about doing a job that somebody had to do and his belief that he was, in fact, protecting our interests. I have never felt that he died in vain (nor did his parents), but I sure wish that we wouldn’t have ignored the escalation of terrorism for 20 years. If we had treated that Beirut bombing as the crime it was, we may have never had to experience 9/11. Regardless, young lives lost are really never justified.

     
  6. Cahaba Lily

    May 25, 2007 at 11:04 am

    What a bitter sweet memory DD. I’m verklempt.

     
  7. Dingo

    May 25, 2007 at 11:15 am

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t make it clear that my friend, Lex, fully believed in what he was doing.
    ————-

    They usually do. They are young and full of hope and faith.

    I’ll leave it at that and remember them all on memorial day.

     
  8. leejolem

    May 25, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    I have been fortunate/blessed enough never to have lost anyone I know during military duty. The war hit close to him though last year when one of my daughter’s friends (who has hung out at our house a lot in the last 4-5 years) decided to sign-up after high school. I then started panicking about where he would be stationed, if he would be in battle, etc…. It turned out he got an honorable discharge for a health issue, but I was surprised at how your perspective changes when it’s someone you know personally at risk.

    DD, thanks so much for the heartfelt post and the reminder to be grateful (and all the beautiful music).

     
  9. shrewspeaks

    May 26, 2007 at 8:41 am

    MM – really touching. Really there isn’t anything more I can say…so I will bow my head and think for a moment about all the Lex’s who came before and after your Lexaand special thoughts about your Lex who was an early casualty in this war on terror.

     
  10. morewines

    May 28, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Can’t help but remember what this day is.
    A friend of mine was killed in Iraq.

     
  11. nolagirl

    May 29, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Agreed on all points. Goosebumps here too.

     

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: