I Knew Your Husband

by Sterling Meeuwen

Ten years ago I came home from work to find that I had an E-mail. This was strange because at the time I did not have an E-mail address. A friend, that I had served with in the Army, had tracked me down and had contacted my wife. I was excited, nearly five years had passed since I had seen him, and asked her what he had said. She gave me a look I had never seen before and replied, “You should read it.”
It took me three tries to get through the letter. It explained how our friend and brother had been killed by an IED, while serving in Iraq. It gave information on the funeral and where to send flowers. When I could finally keep it together enough to make it to the end, it asked If I would like to give any words to his widow. I knew he was married, he talked about his wife often but, I had no idea what I could possibly say to her. I replied, “He was a great guy.”
Today, is the anniversary of his death. I was really just a boy, when I knew him and barely a man when he died. That short span was hard to put into words and him being, “a great guy” does not begin to express how this person has affected me. Today, I wrote the words I was not able to put together ten years ago.
Dear Madam,
I knew your husband. We served together in Korea. What your husband meant to me is something that I am just now beginning to comprehend. When we served together he was not only my Sergeant but, my friend. He taught me what it is to be fair and just person. How to handle getting chewed out. How to be the one doing the chewing. He taught me how to toe the line and when it was acceptable to bend the rules, if not outright break them. Most of all he showed me that not only was it alright to retain some individuality in the military, it was necessary to keep ones sanity. He seemed never to be unhappy and his enthusiasm for life has been something I try to emulate every day. Even now, he was one of the driving forces in our old unit getting back together. I think about him often and when I do it brings me incredible joy and I laugh a little, remembering an inside joke we used to have. I knew your husband and am a better man for it.
In Remembrance,
A.L.S. Meeuwen