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22 April, 2009: I witnessed something today that instilled in me why we live in such a great country. Why I as a naturalized citizen, having been born in Germany and adopted later by an American military couple, take in everything that makes the United States of America what it is today. From the justice being given to someone who steals millions of dollars from retirement savings from people, to the conviction of a former (and probably future still) football stalwart who destroyed dogs because they did not fight well enough to make him money, to our own corruption in Okaloosa county. But what I seen today brought back the realization that there are still good to be found throughout this murky times of economic financial recession and terrorist strife which has led to a nearly twenty years of “War on Terrorism.” You cannot truly have a war on an ideology such as “terrorism” but we have what we have.

Before I describe what I witnessed on that bright sunny cloudless April mid morning I want to quote a few lines from the “Airman’s Creed”:

I am an American Airman
I am a warrior…
I defend my country with my life
I am an American Airman
Wingman, Leader, Warrior
I will never leave an Airman behind
I will not falter and I will not fail

Army Specialist Michael J. Anaya was not an Airman, but he is a warrior, an American Warrior. All who ever donned a uniform in support of the United States military are then and forever more Warriors to the American cause and will always have that connection as “Brothers in Arms” no matter what uniform you wore for whatever branch of the military you served. We have many in our Sandollar midst who are members of that “Brotherhood in Arms.” I also include in that term the females who donned the uniform in service to our country. My one legacy I cherish with my father is that we both served and retired from the United States Military. Additionally I relish the times I ride and converse together with each and every one of my Sandollar Motorcycle Club “Brothers” because we all share a common thread that bind us together: that being our service to our nation.

Spec. Anaya returned home to the Crestview area on 22 April 2009 after having been killed in a roadside bomb in Iraq at 23 years of age. He defended his country with his life. We see and read the saying, “All gave some, some gave all.” Spec. Anaya gave all. But his return does not end the day or end this writing. I witnessed something more that day. I witnessed a message to the world that we will “never leave an Airman behind.” We as a country will show a combating world that we are like no other nation. We do not discard our soldiers, airman, sailors, or marines on the battlefield to be broadcasted to the world’s media as vanquished beings in the streets of the cities. We bring them home to fellow warriors and to a country that respects and honors their service for the freedoms we cherish as a democracy.

I stood along State Road 20 outside the East gate of Eglin awaiting the arrival of the honorary precession bringing home this valiant warrior. I chose a place that I thought I could be by myself. I chose not to be with others in my tribute to my fallen “Brother in Arms”, to maintain my solitude to one and not be part of the crowd. I stood alone on this stretch of road and could see the motorcade approaching. First the Valparaiso Police escort lead, followed by the Patriot Guard with the motorcycles carrying an abundance of waving American flags, then the hearse carrying Michael Anaya, and followed by the myriad of automobiles in the memorial caravan of family and such. My solitary gig was up as soon as two Patriot Guard saw me and one waved in acknowledgement.

Robert L. and Sharron L. were in that Patriot Guard formation. Here were two Sandollars that are currently out of work but still taking the time and money to honor one of my “Brothers in Arms.” With misty eyes (no not tears) I stood tall and proud. I am Proud to be a Sandollar, Proud to be a Veteran, and Proud I chose to be an American. I am not much on fanfare and such, I retired with nary a ceremony after nearly 26 years in the military, but when my father or I die my single request will be to have a tribute with the Patriot Guard escorting our remains wherever they may go.


(These are the thoughts and memories of our club member "The Mitchell")

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Last revised: May 2, 2009
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