Last night my mom and I watched PBS's 25th annual National Memorial Day Concert that paid tribute to the soldiers that have served/are serving in the armed forces. I remember my dad always watching the show when I was a little girl and I'm ashamed to say that I thought it was downright boring. I was young and I didn't really understand the importance and significance of the sacrifice of those that serve.
Now that I'm older I have so much more appreciation and gratitude for our soldiers and veterans, especially since September 11 and with the war in Afghanistan and Iraq (which is the longest war in our nation's history). Over the past 13 years more than 2300 American soldiers have lost their lives. With the increased use of explosive devices there are hundreds if not thousands of soldiers who have lost limbs. Then there are those who come home from the war physically unchanged but are then emotionally ravaged and suffer from PTSD.
I loved watching last night's program and hearing the heartbreaking stories of soldiers past and present and the things they've personally experienced. They shared the story of John Peck, a soldier who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is an excerpt from the bio about him on PBS's website:
"John Peck enlisted on Sept. 11, 2005 and rose to the rank of Marine Sergeant. He served in Iraq and later in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, and on a 2010 mission while leading a sweep for IEDs, one exploded underneath his feet. Sergeant Peck woke up two months later at National Naval Medical Center after 29 surgeries and 43 pints of blood, as a quadruple amputee."
As they were sharing John's story and showing video from his recovery and new life, Jackie Evancho sang There's a Place for Us. I love that song and the combination of hearing it and seeing and the heartbreaking, yet inspiring video made me break down. I'm not easily moved to tears when something touches/moves me, so my emotions caught me off guard. It really affected me and I sobbed!
At the time of John's accident he'd only been married for a short while, but his wife couldn't handle things and left him after a few months. I know how painful a broken heart is and thinking about John having to experience that at the same time as losing all of his limbs was too much! Although John's life must be incredibly challenging, there is a major bright spot in his story. He found love again and is engaged to be married this fall. I'm sure his fiancée is a very special woman! Here are a few pictures of John: