I had the honor of listening to Marcus Luttrell, the “Lone Survivor”, along with other American heroes in the Jacksonville, FL area when his “Patriot Tour” came to town this past Wednesday, March 12, 2014. I was looking forward to this event, but when a good friend could not make it due to a family member’s illness that forced him to leave town I almost didn’t go. Graciously, he gave his ticket to a friend of mine and we went.
I had several reasons for wanting to attend. First, I wanted to hear first-hand Luttrell’s experiences as a Navy SEAL especially the event that led to what became the movie “Lone Survivor”. Second, I wanted to physically see the man who went through hell and back defending what we American’s treasure. Third, I was hoping to personally thank Luttrell for his service to our country. I was fortunate to accomplish two out of three of my goals.
Before Marcus Luttrell took the stage, other heroes spoke about their personal experiences. The one thing they all had in common was their undeniable devotion to the United States of America and what it stands for. They are unapologetic, loyal, and incredible human beings. Some lost limbs, others lost loved ones, and others have now devoted their civilian lives to helping other veterans. They also have selflessness in common; they continue to give for this country after leaving much on battlefields all over the world.
When Luttrell walked on the stage, honestly, I was expecting a man who was somewhat confident in his presentation possibly bordering on arrogance. However, he was far from cocky; quite the opposite actually. He seemed just like any other guy you would bump into at a ball game or at the store. He spoke immediately without waiting for the crowd’s adulation. He looked into the crowd like a man who was nervous and out-of-place. It was almost like he didn’t completely understand why everyone was there to see him.
While interjecting a joke or two into his presentation, he discussed the fateful mission that has become known around the world. Ordered to hunt down a wanted terrorist in a dangerous section of Afghanistan, he and three comrades, Navy SEALs trained like no other soldier anywhere, experienced what no men should ever be asked to. He told us the real story of what happened on that mission, and pointed out what really happened versus what the film illustrated. He said the main reason for the differences were two-fold; first, it was way too graphic, and second, to save the families of the dead soldiers the horror of watching what truly happened to those men.
I can honestly say that I have never been so engrossed in a dialogue than I was listening to Marcus. The candor, humility, and absolute pain in his words carved a place within my memory that will never be erased. The detail he explained with every aspect of that mission was mind-boggling. His wounds and the ability to keep going; to survive. To continue fighting. To complete the mission until it was clearly lost, and he still found a way to go on.
I have a special place in my heart for all current and veteran military members. The sacrifices on and off the battlefields are incredible and in my opinion undervalued. I wish our government would do far more for those that serve or served with honor. After experiencing The Patriot Tour, that place in my heart is now much larger.
I can never feel sorry for myself for any type of struggle I may have or will experience; all I have to do is remind myself of Marcus Luttrell and other great American heroes. What they have dealt with trumps any and all bad things I can think of, and my life has not been a bed of roses. Veterans have always been a source of inspiration for me, but now they are true role models thanks to Marcus Luttrell’s courage to share with us all what he and his brothers went through while serving our country.
If you have a chance to see The Patriot Tour, then do not hesitate to do so. At least do yourself a favor and read his book or see the movie “Lone Survivor”. I cannot convince everyone to respect the men and women of the Armed Forces and/or Veterans, but every chance I get I will act in a way that shows the respect they deserve. I hope everyone finds their way to show that respect. We owe them everything we have. They are the best that the United States of America has to offer. They are the United States of America.
God bless you all.