Today is a very important day in our country. Today, we celebrate the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice so we can continue to live freely in our country. I have been thinking a lot about this all day and I only really have two points of reference. One of my dearest friends is Colonel Mike Adkinson. Many in the Atlanta technology community know Mike as the founder and Point Man of TechLINKS. Mike was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Mike was shot down 12 times and was rescued each time. Mike was very close to dying on multiple times and has a cabinet full of medals including three Silver Stars and a number of Purple Hearts. Mike is truly an American hero. I am thankful that Mike was rescued so many times. Needless to say, I would never have met a person who has become such an important part of my life. If Mike was not so much older than me, I would say that he is like an older brother but since he is, let’s just call him a cherished uncle. My life would not have been the same if I had not known Mike Adkinson. My other point of reference is my oldest son, Lt. Richard E. Steele, III. Everett will soon be promoted to Captain just weeks before he is discharged in July after serving his four years. Everett led a scout patrol in Iraq and although he will not discuss it much, I know he saw and experienced things that his father has never experienced nor would I have put my son through it if given the choice. Everett volunteered and put himself in harm’s way. He made the choice and wrote about it before leaving Athens, Georgia for basic training: http://flagpole.com/Weekly/Features/Enlisted.28Feb07. I am very thankful my son returned safely from his duty. My life would certainly made a turn for the worse had he not returned.
I do not know anyone personally who died in any of this countries wars other than friends of friends. However, that does not isolate my feelings towards those who did give their lives for me and for you. I humbly want to thank all of the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives of those who did not return home. Your loss is not forgotten by millions upon millions in our country. May God give you the peace of mind and heart that your loved one’s sacrifice was not in vain. Everyone who calls themselves an American owe you a great debt of gratitude and if you have not heard a thank you today, Thank You from the depths of my heart.
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