Wish There Were Words Stronger than Thank You

NJ IRAQ MARINE KILLEDOn April 6, 2004, in an ambush firefight in Ramadi, Iraq, JT Wroblewski, Second Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps, lost his life while attempting to save the lives of his troops he served with. JT, the 25 year-old son of John and Shawn, was the first Marine from the state of New Jersey to make the ultimate sacrifice during the Iraq war.

I have written about JT over the past several years in my Memorial Day Blog. His parents live one street over from me, in the house JT grew up in, here in northwestern New Jersey. While the neighbors are opening their pools, attending parades, planting flowers, and getting the ribs and burgers ready for the grill, my neighbor John experiences this day with a heavy heart, as does anyone who lost a family member to the hideous reality of war.

cigar_ping6Today is the day that we in the United States have dedicated to every man and woman of our nation who has given up the ultimate sacrifice. For years I’ve always wondered how a somber day like today became associated with swimming pools, hotdogs and hamburgers. But one day I came to realize that the reason our brave soldiers go to war is so we, Joe Everyday Citizens CAN enjoy a life of freedom to do and live as we please. Our men and women who continue to fight in the sand and that soldier2oppressive heat grew up on back yard barbecues and family gatherings, and now THEY have made the conscious choice to defend the country that has given them the freedom so many of us take for granted. They are well aware of the daily risks they take and of the daunting reality that they too may become a casualty, one who is forever remembered on this last day of May. But that doesn’t stop a single one of them from serving all of us back here on Main Street, USA.

I grew up as a young boy during the Vietnam War, and remember the nightly news reports speaking of the casualties as just facts and figures. Troops were being sent home in body bags and the anti-war sentiment was mounting. I was a iraq_cigar_widewebpre-teen, but I still have vivid memories of the events of the day. My dad was in the Korean War and his uncles fought in World War 2.

But I felt that I just had to mention that the people of today’s armed forces are all volunteers. Not a one of them has been forced to defend our land, and to me, that takes a certain kind of guts and heart. Now don’t think for even a second that I am minimizing the so many who were drafted and fought – those men answered the call and with bravery gave what was asked of them – some WAY beyond what was asked. But I have a special place in my heart for today’s soldier who knows quite well of the inherent dangers of roadside explosives and the suicide bombers who believe they are sent to heaven for taking the lives of anyone unfortunate enough to be in their path. Today’s enlisted men are fighting an enemy that has no fear of death and believes he’ll be rewarded with a bounty of giggling virgins. That’s a very dangerous enemy, one our country has never fought the likes of before. To volunteer for that kind of duty is a type of bravery and dedication I will never know.

usa-memorial-daySo with a huge open heart I say thank you to everyone serving in our military, and to everyone who has served in the past. No, I really mean it – this is not just some kind of heartfelt bullshit one writes in a Memorial Day piece. I thank you all so much for keeping it possible 213memorialdayfor my wife and kids to enjoy our home and family gatherings for years to come. I hear so many of you say it’s just your job, but you can’t fool us. My job has me relegated to sucking on tobacco sticks and writing about it. Your job, is making sure that I can continue to do so, and from the very depths of my soul, you have my eternal gratitude.

So, today I will grill my three racks of baby backs, light up several of my best cigars, imbibe a whole lot… and feel safe. I simply cannot even begin to thank the men and women of the United States military enough. I know I speak for ALL the readers of this Blog that we support you all and wish you a safe tour and a happy ride home. And to JT, rest peacefully, buddy.

Humbly Yours,

Tommy Z.

JR CIGARS BLOG With the Zman

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