I suppose there is much Hawkeye could say about what he has been through in Afghanistan, but he chose to share a story of hope….
A SOLDIER’S SUNRISE
I am twenty-two years old. I have a wife and little girl. And we are expecting our second child this summer.
When I was seventeen years old, my father signed my authorization papers to enlist in The United States Army. After Basic, I went through AIT and Airborne School. As a Corporal, I received special permission to proceed onto Ranger Select School, which usually requires the rank of Sergeant. In February of 2010, I was deployed to Afghanistan.
On 23 April 2010, I met a boy named Sayid. He was eleven years old. And he had lost the ability to express his emotions because his mother and father had been killed.
He saw it happen.
This precious little boy had seen his own parents stabbed to death. Sayid, fortunately, had been hiding when it happened — but it seemed he would bear the burden of the brutal act for the rest of his life.
Sayid never smiled. He never giggled. And he never laughed.
Although he would play with the other kids, if Sayid got hurt he never showed any pain.
He was completely void of emotions.
During my personal time, I would watch movies with Sayid and tell him stories.
I would buy food, clothes, and toys for Sayid. He would thank me each time for everything — but, always, he had a blank look on his face.
I wanted Sayid to smile again. I wanted him to laugh again. To feel again.
To live. Again.
On 17 December 2010, Sayid’s brother told me about a pendant, which his mother had worn at all times — like a uniform.
If she left it on the table, Sayid would run and get it for her. He would dutifully bring it to his mother. To Sayid, the pendant was a part of his mother — as much as her own hair.
There was no question what I had to do.
I made the trek, twenty-five miles from base, to the house where Sayid’s parents had been killed.
I searched all the rooms, all the doors, all the cupboards. And I spent four hours and forty-five minutes going through piles of rubble and debris.
Finally, I found it.
It was like seeing a Christmas tree for the first time when I was a kid. And I felt like God was giving me the help I needed to help Sayid.
I headed back to base. And the first thing I did was wrap the pendant in Christmas paper. Then I got my laptop and played his favorite song.
When I found Sayid, I have his present.
He opened it up.
And when he saw the pendant, he stared at it for the longest time.
He ran up and hugged me.
Then, he cried. Tears of joy.
And, over and over, he kept saying,
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
He put the pendant on — and he had the biggest smile on his face.
It was the first time I had seen Sayid smile in the eight months I had known him.
From that day forward, he would smile, he would laugh, he would giggle — he would even get upset.
Because, to him, his mother was always with him now — wrapped around his neck in that pendant.
He was alive. Again.
That is an experience I’ll never forget.
And I’ll never forget Sayid.
I know Sayid will never forget me.