Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Land of The Free~Home of the Brave

Four years ago today, 5:55am, Sgt. Matthew Webber (right) left this world and went to meet his Maker. It wasn’t without agony and torture that he woke up every day for 5 month in the critical care burn unit of a Texas military hospital, enduring the excruciating pain of wound care, amputations, surgeries and physical therapy. With no means to control his situation, and no way to change it, he fought for life, honor, and dignity. Flanked by his vigilant mother Jayne, who stayed by his side for endless hours everyday advocating and speaking for him when he couldn’t, and kept company by his younger brother Andy, who left Michigan to be there with him, Matt knew he was never alone. He was coached on by his ‘real dad’ Vince, who had been there for him since he was a tot, and had the endless love and admiration of his youngest brother, Josh, who never stopped believing that Matt would come home someday and ride the pontoon boat with him and Matt’s dog, Sarge. The cards, letters, prayers, visits by family and close friends did wonders for Matt’s spirits. He wanted with all that was in him to recover and be himself again. He refused to give up or give in to what others said was the inevitable. President Bush came to the hospital on New Year’s Day to see the 3 men left in Matt’s company, all who were all critical condition. He wanted to personally speak with them, give them their medals and meet with their families, Matt adamantly refused....not because he was angry about his condition or his sacrifice, but because doctors had removed his right arm and Matt knew he wouldn’t be able to salute his Commander-in-Chief. I was there at the time and remember thinking, "No, Matt! It's you that needs to be saluted!" It blew my mind. Just the night before, Jayne and I had smuggled New Year’s Eve party hats and blowers into his room, watching with him as ‘The Ball’ dropped in Times Square on the television, telling Matt that this was a new year and it would be a new beginning. As the ball began to drop, we counted down the seconds ‘til midnight, and tears poured down my face watching him mouth the words,... four, three, two, one...and in my heart I cried out with everything in me for God to do a miracle and raise him up from this horrible situation. He fought for another 4 months before he died, but just the same he died. So now when I see what is happening in America today, the political wrangling, the finger pointing, the erosion of our constitutional rights, the corruption, I often shake my head. It breaks my heart. Young men and women fighting with all their hearts to defend a country and freedom we all say we cherish, and yet we take so for granted. I love my country now more than I ever have, because my nephew, Sgt. Matthew Webber’s blood was spilled on behalf of the freedom I hold dear. I will never forget his bravery, his sacrifice, his agony, or the dignity with which he dealt with his suffering. I will never forget his courage, his never-die attitude, or the sparkling blue eyes that twinkled every time I walked into his room. He couldn’t speak to me then, but he didn’t have to...his life spoke volumes and everything I needed to know about him I understood.This day, and every anniversary of Matt’s death will be recognized as the day we lost a great man, a patriot, and the best kind of human being possible. I know I speak for many when I say that my comfort in all this is knowing I will see him again. After first seeing Jesus, that will be the highlight of heaven. Matt is gone, but will never be forgotten!