Sunday, May 26, 2024

On Memorial Day, This Is My True North

**The Following Post is Adapted from a X post made earlier in the day by the author, it's been edited slightly from its original version**

In 2012 I was 9 months into my deployment overseas. I had a two week leave at the latest you possibly could have it. To coincide with my then-fiancĂ©'s law school graduation. By this point, time was moving excruciatingly slow. As an engineering company we mostly knew our hardest missions were behind us, and thankfully we were kept very busy still, but we were very much in the rear. At the time I was disappointed by this, which is something I look back on with shame. My personal disappointment was more relief for everyone who cared about me. But you don't think about these things when you're a young man. In this era Afghanistan was becoming more and more of a mess, and worse, an unreported-on mess. ISIS was a “JV team” and I knew the country back home was checked out. This fact frustrated me further. When I got to the last point before a flight to Germany (where all our leave flights go through) and then to the United States, I saw an Army unit arrive from Afghanistan. The collective look of tired on their faces said it all. When I got on my final flight and was a mere hour from surprising my now-wife at trivia night like we used to play when I was home, they announced from the cabin to wait for the remains of an American soldier to be taken off the plane first. I was the only one in uniform at this point, surrounded by civilians. Complete quiet took over. But I could feel a lot of eyeballs on me. Even though I was in the middle of the plane there was no way I was going to leave ahead of anyone else. Everyone left except the airline crew and me. Then I got my things and walked out. To this day I do not know who this soldier was. I could have easily look it up via the date and fact that his final destination was my born and raised home state of Minnesota. One day, probably when my son is older we’ll figure it out together. Until then, a mystery soldier he will remain. Who like so many other war dead gave the last full measure of devotion. Tomorrow is for all of them.

Troy M. Olson is an Army Veteran, lawyer by training, and co-author (with Gavin Wax) of ‘The Emerging Populist Majority’ now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Target. He is the Sergeant-at-Arms of the New York Young Republican Club and co-founder of the Veterans Caucus. He lives in New York City with his wife and son. You can follow him on X/Twitter and Substack at @TroyMOlson


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