Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Honor. Duty. Country.
This picture is the site of Jeremy's accident, taken about three days later. I have not ever been there and have no intention at this time of ever going there.
Below is a document I sent via email and fax to my Congressmen/women and Senators. It also is on www.afterdowningstreet.org and went out to numerous friends to encourage all to write our elected representatives, tell them to use Jeremy's example of bravery and courage to do what is right for this country and end this war.
Today I want to tell you the story of the death of my son, Jeremy. I want you to know of his courage and bravery, the honor he showed in the final moments of his life. I hope that, through hearing his story, you will find the honor and courage to do what is right for our country in these turbulent times.
Sgt. Jeremy Russell Smith died on February 13, 2004 around 9:00 a.m. just outside of Ft. Hood, Texas. He was only 22 years old.
That morning, after roll call, Jeremy and his unit where dismissed from the base for a final 48-hour leave of absence before they were to leave for duty in Iraq. Jeremy and several of his buddies took a shuttle of some kind and went to a car rental place at the airport (in Killeen, I believe). Jeremy rented a 2003 Honda Accord. He and one of his buddies were on their way back to the North gate of Ft. Hood, in Gatesville, when he died.
The story I have been told by Jeremy’s buddies is that he and one of his friends were driving on Highway 36 to the base, on a two lane road. Now, if you haven’t ever been in that part of Texas, let me describe it for you. It is in the Hill Country, which is filled with two lane twisting, turning, winding roads. The roadsides are full of trees and fields for as far as you can see. It is truly beautiful country.
Apparently Jeremy was in a hurry to get back to the base. His friend, who was in the car behind him, told me that Jeremy passed a car in a no-passing zone. There was an 18-wheeler coming from the opposite direction and Jeremy saw it too late. He couldn’t get back into his lane without causing an accident. The only choice he had, the only chance he had, was to go off the road.
In a split second decision, Jeremy went off the road. He hit a stand of trees going 80 miles an hour. The impact broke his car into pieces and took at least four trees out with him. At least one of the trees hit Jeremy in the head, killing him instantly. Jeremy was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident. No one else was hurt in the accident.
At his funeral, I was presented with an Army Commendation Medal for Jeremy’s bravery and courage.
The Army taught Jeremy three things. Honor. Duty. Country. On that cold morning in February these things came into play. The honor he learned from the Army told him he could harm no one else. Jeremy made a mistake, he took responsibility for his mistake and for this he paid with his life. He knew it was a possibility when he went off that road. Every day for the rest of my life I will wonder what went through his mind in those final moments of his life. At least I know that my son died with honor, showing courage and bravery and took responsibility for his actions. In this I have some sense of peace in my grief.
Now, I ask of you, the leaders of this country, the people who have the power to end this war, to learn from Jeremy. You called him to leave his home, his family and his school to serve his country, to put himself in harm’s way in a foreign country. He did so willingly and without question. Even though he was scared to death of going into the hostile environment of Iraq, he wanted to go and help the people of that country have a better life. He believed what he was told by you, the leaders of this country, and he wanted to do his part. He showed his Honor, his Courage and Bravery. He walked the walk.
If you are still sitting on the fence, undecided or fearful of the consequences of admitting that you were wrong in sending our sons and daughters to war, remember Jeremy. You can pay no higher price for a bad decision than he did. The American people are waiting for you to stand up and speak out against this war. We are waiting for you to come forward and show your Honor, your Courage and your Bravery the way Jeremy did and the way so many others have and will continue to do.
It is not a noble to continue this war just to justify the deaths of so many who have already died for the lies of this war. It is not honoring them to “stay the course” when we know we are there for all the wrong reasons.
Remember these three words: HONOR. DUTY. COUNTRY. They are on Jeremy’s headstone at the Houston National Cemetery. He lived by those words. It’s time you did so as well.