Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

I was grateful to see this story in Friday's Detroit Free Press:

Iraq war veteran from Michigan describes blast that cost her a leg


"Ladies and gentlemen, freedom is not free."

With that, tearful Michigan National Guard veteran Sgt. Michelle Rudzitis ended an emotional address to the state Senate, in which she recounted losing her right leg to a roadside bomb in Baghdad, Iraq, on Jan. 22, 2007.

Rudzitis, who turns 33 on Monday, which is also Memorial Day, was the keynote speaker for the Senate's annual Memorial Day service. She told of coming back to her Army base after a day off and a shopping spree. Her Humvee was the only vehicle in a convoy struck by a bomb that hurls a piece of molten copper through steel.

Two in the crew were killed and two were injured, including Rudzitis, whose right leg was severely damaged. Rudzitis, a former Farmington Hills resident who lives in Traverse City, said the Humvee's extra armor had been removed because it was to be refitted with new shielding.

Her description of the injuries -- her eyelashes were fused by the blast so she could not open her eyes, and she woke up in a hospital with her leg amputated -- brought many in the Senate chamber to tears.

A nine-year veteran of the National Guard, Rudzitis called her service the most important thing she'd ever done. She asked that families who spend Memorial Day gathering for barbecues "please, just take a moment and remember what this day means, and to remember all the servicemen and women who are no longer with us."

She said she spent more than seven months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., recuperating from the blast.

What's so refreshing about Sgt. Rudzitis's testimony is the way she describes her sacrifice and suffering as a triumph, instead of a tragedy--

"Rudzitis called her service the most important thing she'd ever done."

Let's hope that America on Memorial Day 2009 still deserves the likes of her.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God bless her. No, we don't deserve her, but I'm glad we have her.