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Meeting Commander Price May Change Your Life
Those who have followed my work have certainly read my stories about my father, the late Lieutenant Colonel (Ret., USA) Donald Keshel. We said goodbye when he was dying; I went to Afghanistan, and he fought pancreatic cancer. While I was able to take emergency leave and attend his memorial immediately after his death in September 2010, his interment at Arlington National Cemetery would be delayed for four months, until January 2011. Unfortunately, my deployment prevented me from being part of that ceremony.
To atone for my absence, I try to visit Dad as often as possible. I always keep it together after I take that left off Eisenhower Drive onto York Drive on the way to the columbarium that holds not only his remains, but those of many other heroes and their loved ones who have left us. I always have few words with God, and with Dad. I stand up, salute his marker, and make the walk back out. The round trip is probably less than two miles, but seems like twenty, and maybe longer depending on how much sun is out. I always lose it on the way back, as if Dad went home to heaven last week instead of almost thirteen years ago. I now realize I was never able to properly grieve my father because my mind was focused on defeating the enemy.
On my last visit, just last month, I admired the grounds like I always do, which helps distract from the sadness I feel from saying goodbye to Dad. Despite all the carnage in America, our parks are still beautiful and immaculate, especially the hallowed ground of Arlington. Great, historical heroes are buried on these grounds, and so are heroes history does not remember so well. On the way back from the columbarium, just past Marshall Drive, I noticed the headstone of Lieutenant Commander Jason Michael Price, United States Navy. He came into this world on August 20, 1979, a Monday, and left this world on September 29, 2020, a Tuesday.
In preparing to write this brief piece, I was unable to find anything on Commander Price. All I know about him is what his headstone tells me, all the way down to his Catholic faith symbolized on his marker. This officer is one of countless thousands of names history may never know, but who was known to some as a son or friend, or perhaps a brother, husband, or father. I don’t even know how Commander Price died at the age of 41, which lies just three more trips around the sun for me.
Why am I making such a big deal about this headstone? Because this commander, or perhaps his family if his death was unexpected, remembered something that mattered a lot to him:
Nothing Great Comes From Comfort Zones
This quote takes up the lower third of his stone and sent a chill up my spine. How true is it, in a world that seeks comfort, that we are losing everything because so many people are too afraid to lose anything? We do not get to keep the things that we amass here on this Earth. Our wealth will one day be spread to others who did not work for it, our cars and trucks will become coat hangers, and the very homes we live in may one day be plowed under to make room for new development.
History has remembered those who took a stand for the things they believed in, especially when they had something to lose. Here are some notable signers of the Declaration of Independence and their ages in 1776:
John Adams, 40, Massachusetts
Samuel Chase, 35, Maryland
Elbridge Gerry, 32, Massachusetts
Thomas Heyward, 30, South Carolina
William Hooper, 34, North Carolina
Thomas Jefferson, 33, Virginia
Arthur Middleton, 34, South Carolina
William Paca, 35, Maryland
Edward Rutledge, 26, South Carolina
History will not remember the ones who waited for others to solve America’s, or the world’s, problems on behalf of everyone else. As surely as I type this piece, our society will again do what every society in history has done – re-order itself, rid itself of tyranny, and blaze a new trail for posterity. We are currently experiencing the consequences of inaction on a large scale, for an extended period, but we are awakening.
When we get to the other side of this river, history will know its heroes, and they will be those who, when it was easier than anything else to remain silent in the face of injustice, knew no comfort zones.
Remember the fallen heroes of this Republic by committing to leave your comfort zone, find your hill, and speak your truth no matter what accusers, cynics, and saboteurs have to say about it.
Then will come the great things.
Author’s Note: I had not intended to write a new piece with a reflection on Memorial Day, but this came to me seemingly out of nowhere. I hope it inspires you and moves you to thank God for everyday heroes like Commander Price. I would normally request you to consider upgrading to a paid subscription upon publication of a free piece, but I would be most honored if you would consider a donation to a worthy veteran cause. My father asked for donations to the USO when he died in lieu of flowers. My favorite veterans charity is K9s for Warriors.