Honoring Sgt. James Skalberg
Army Sgt. James Skalberg, a 25-year-old soldier from Red Oak, Iowa was killed in Afghanistan on June 27 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Following are the thoughts of my niece Angie about the day that Red Oak remembered this courageous American man.
I experienced a moment unlike any other in my life, today. It began by explaining to my children that we were going to stand along side the street to wave our flag and show our love for our country and a special man that died serving it. We weren't going to a parade and getting candy and we weren't celebrating. The young man that we were there to honor has a family, a young wife, a baby boy and friends that will never see him again because he loved our country so much that he would die for it.
My young son asked if there are other soldiers protecting us and I told him that there are and that we pray they come home safely to their families. My preschooler daughter proudly told everyone around that when this "nice man's car goes by, I will put my hand over my heart and hold my flag up."
When the procession passed by, everyone around went silent. Patriot guard riders drove by and I could feel the rumble of their motorcycles in my heart. My family and I watched a hero and his mourning family make their way down the street lined with American flags and proud but somber supporters. I will never forget the sight of the flag-draped coffin in the back of the hearse and for a moment wished the car had gone a little slower as it passed by - joining the many who wish for more time with this hero.
Tonight I go to bed sad, but filled with pride - pride in my children (whom I hope will remember today), pride in my town for showing so much support, and pride for the United States of America and for men and women like Sgt. James Skalberg who die defending our country and all of the people in it.
My children got extra kisses at bedtime tonight as I thought of Jamie's parents who used to kiss him goodnight when he was a child - never knowing what a hero their son would grow up to be. I also go to bed hoping that neither I, nor anyone else, has to have a day like today again.