Wednesday, November 11, 2009


On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month a family of disparate nations pays tribute to those who have taken up arms to defend their homelands and protect their families. In the U.S. the day is for "Veterans", those who have fought and lived to tell the tales -- "Memorial Day" in the spring is devoted specifically to those who gave their lives.

Canada, England, and other nations upon whom the wholesale slaughter of World War I had such immediate and devastating impact, reserve the day of Armistice to remember the dead, and call it "Remembrance Day." It is usually a day so sombre that it really has no equivalent in the more optimistic culture of us Yanks.

This Remembrance Day I will dedicate my prayers to remembering someone I have never met but who is almost as real for me as any son of mine. Today I remember Captain Kyle Van de Giesen, Marine Corps helicopter pilot, who died at age 29 in a helicopter crash in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on October 26.

He leaves behind him a wife, an 18-month-old daughter, and a brand new son whose birth, yesterday, he did not live to see.

Kyle will spend this Remembrance Day in my heart because
his career as a student at St. Anselm's College, recruitment under Captain Goedecke, summers at Officer Candidate School, graduation and commission on the St. A's quad, ultimate posting to a base in California, and deployment to the far side of the globe into a world of dust and enemies, runs parallel to that of Captain Cincinnatus, my own son -- age 29, Marine helicopter pilot, husband and father, for whom Kyle was a friend, a comrade, and a model.

At St. Anselm's, in M
anchester, New Hampshire, where the two future Marines' paths crossed, Kyle was remembered at a service at the college war memorial, a quiet corner of the quad which was built during Kyle's years at the school, and which will bear his name inscribed among the generations of alumni heroes.

Kyle spent his first year at St. A's continuing his stellar record as a
quarterback, but he then gave up football to concentrate on his studies. His impact on the fledgling college team was remembered on October 31, with his name and number emblazoned on the field. Kyle was laid to rest on November 6 in North Attleboro, Mass., amid an outpouring of sympathy and support from his entire community, withat least a thousand strangers lining the streets in silent respect for his funeral procession. Four days later, on the 234th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, Kyle became a father again.

Despite the fact that I truly don't want to, I can't help but imagine what the Van de Giesen family is going through right now. Their celebration of the birth of the new baby is as much about courage as it is about joy. May God bless them in their time of need, have mercy on them in the moments of despair, and guide the nation for which Kyle gave his life, to reward his sacrifice with the victory that is within its reach.

Captain Kyle Rolf Van de Giesen
April 14, 1980 - October 26, 2009

Requiescat in pace.
Semper Fidelis