Sgt. Michael T. Washington, I salute you.

I am so proud of you. Of all you stood for. Of all you lived for. Of all you died for.

Your nation owes you a debt of gratitude.

I attended the memorial service for this fallen marine today. He was killed in Afghanistan on June 14, 2008 in an IED explosion, with three of his brothers in arms from the Seventh Marine Regiment 2/7.

The reality of the war hero hit me in a way it hasn’t before; I’ve never been connected to a wartime death before. I know, I know, it’s not about me. But I hadn’t made the personal connection quite like this before. Michael’s mom was in my BSF discussion group all year, and we prayed for her son regularly all year. . . I can’t help but ask God, “Why? He was only 20. To let this happen, now? Why?”

A quote from Michael on February 1, 2007, Al Anbar Province, Iraq:

“I don’t want anything to happen to my boys though. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost one, or if he got hurt. The guys here are family. I’ve never had a brother before, but they’re the closest to one I got…they know everything about me, as I know everything about them. I would just as easily die for them. For me, there is no better feeling than that. I feel 100% safe with them. I have no worries about my life. When it’s my time, it’s my time.”

I’m redoubling my efforts to support these men and women and their families. I don’t know what that looks like right now, but . . . in Michael’s honor, I’m stepping it up.

At ease, Sergeant. Rest in peace. Wait in heaven, we’ll see you there when we go home to join you in God’s presence.