Memorial Day 5/31/21

Dear America,

In fairness, I don’t know what kind of person I would be. I don’t know who I would be in combat or behind enemy lines. I am fortunate to say this and yet, I am fortunate to say that I will never know this. And yet, still, I am someone who loves my country.
I am someone who still believes in the beating heart and the souls, the lives, the hope and the dreams of our Nation. I believe in the standards, which I have been told about since a young age. Although I understand that changes need to be made, America, I love you with all of my heart.

I have never served my country. Perhaps this is because I never had what it took. Maybe I wasn’t strong enough. But either way, I am someone who stands for the Pledge of Allegiance. I stand for our National Anthem, which, I understand that this is my choice. This is my right to choose to stand; and therefore, had it not been for those who have defended our country; had it not been for those who served in battles that date back to long before us, then I would have nothing to stand for at all. So therefore, I stand.

Today is Memorial Day. Today I remember names of friends that I never met before. These were men that served our country. They were people I exchanged messages with. We spoke on the phone. Today, I remember an effort of mine towards a movement known as 22 Kill. This organization helps Veterans in trying times. They bring awareness to the fact that 22 Veterans commit suicide on a daily basis. 

Perhaps a piece of this statistic is because part of them had died somewhere else. The truth is I don’t know. I don’t know where they are now, where they were or what they’ve seen. However, I know that at our core, there is the amazing similarity of common humanity. This is why in the past, I have volunteered to answer phone calls from Veterans that were in crisis. 

Today, I remember some of the Marines that I would send messages to while serving in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of them never made it home. One in particular used to ask that I send him messages about my home and explain what my neighborhood looks like. He wanted to create a vision in his head that was different from the views he was seeing. He never made it home.
I think of friends that I’ve had the honor of meeting. I think about the bracelet that one of them wears on his wrist with the names of his friends that died while sitting right next to him. Somehow, he lived and they died. This is something that he will carry with him for the rest of his life. This is why there is an inscription on the bracelet that reads, “Until we meet again,” after their names.

I don’t know who or how I would be in a fight like this. I don’t know what I would do nor do I understand what it must be like to see death like this, up close and personal. I do not know what it is like to live with the mental pictures or the different remnants of war.
It is sad that we have days like this. And yet, it is important that we have days like this. It is important to acknowledge the lives that were lost in the defense of our Country. It is important to remember those who died in battle as well as those who died from the aftermath of war. And whether their death was mental or physical, today, we remember them all. 

We remember them as men and women, the young boys and girls that went to places, which the rest of us have only read about. We remember their faces and their pictures. We remember their young souls that went over and the people that returned.
Their lives forever altered. Their vision forever changed, and to them; whether they served in the Pacific or in places like Korea or Vietnam, no matter which land they marched through; today, we honor more than those who died in their service. We honor their families. We honor their children. We honor their mothers and their fathers. We honor them all because we remember. 

It would be both civically and personally lazy of me to simply deny my responsibility and do nothing else. It would be lazy of me to simply say that no, I did not have what it takes to serve my country. It is not enough to say that my Father served back in the year 1946.
I could tell the world that I love my Country. I could tell you, America, that I love you and that I support you with every ounce of my being.  However, words like this will only fall short. Words like this lack the benefit of action. And moreover, words that go without action do not show anything. Instead, words like this are nothing but words alone.

America,
I am sorry for what I have missed. I am sorry for what I see. However, I am grateful to you and to the America that I believe in.
I filled out a volunteer form this morning. I did this because if I was not able to serve you in one way, then perhaps I can serve you in another. 

I am thinking of the videos I’ve seen throughout the years. I am thinking about the gun boats that arrived on the beaches of Normandy. It has been said that 90% of the men that landed on that beach were killed as soon as the boats arrived on shore.
Enemy troops were firing down from a favorable position, in which, this left the troops with one of three choices. Either they would be shot and killed, drown in the waters, or be one person of that 10% that successfully stormed the beach and took the hill.

I don’t know who I would be in this fight. I don’t know what I would have done but I do that if given the choice, I would choose to take the beach. In fact, I live my life this way. Rather than fall while under fire or drown around me, I choose to take the beach. 

I would like to share with you a message that I’ve emailed to the organization 22 Kill.
The message reads as follows:

Good morning;

I am writing this to you on the morning of Memorial Day. In the past I have volunteered to handle phone calls by anyone who was in crisis. Unfortunately, I never had what it took to serve my country. However, I stand for our National Anthem and for the Pledge of Allegiance. I do this proudly. 

A few years ago, I was introduced to your organization by doing 22 pushups in 22 days on social media. This was to raise awareness that 22 Veterans will commit suicide on a daily basis. After which, I learned two things. First, I learned that my pushups are pretty sad. But second and most importantly, I realized that my allegiance to my Country as well as to those who have served should not and cannot end after 22 pushups in 22 days.

I answered a few phone calls on behalf of your organization. I can say that I know of two Veterans specifically that did not kill themselves because of this conversation.

It was this effort that taught me about my calling. It was this initiative that caused me to gain different certifications to help those who struggle to help themselves. I am a peer specialist and a recovery coach. I am a certified professional life coach and also a peer advocate, which comes with clinical experience and clinical supervision in the state of New York.

I would like to offer my support in speaking with anyone who might need an ear, a friend, a shoulder or a reminder that no service shall ever be forgotten. 

Kindly advise how or if I can be of any service. 

Respectfully,

Benjamin J Kimmel

I sent this message with a humble heart in honor of those who have lost in one battle or another.
All gave some. Some gave all.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

Bless you, America
You will forever be in my heart.

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