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A Holiday of Heroes in The Burgh

Unspeakable words come to my mind when thinking of our heroes that have sacrificed everything since the inception of the Iraqi and Afghan war.  This is the only war I truly know (and somewhat understand) only being 33 years old.  And it’s a war that has seen local heroes perish from Western Pennsylvania, three of which are from the very high school I graduated from.  I don’t know how to react to these untimely deaths, these war-stricken, yet life-saving acts of heroism.  I feel immense pride and a sense of sadness at the same time…two emotions that don’t sit calmly in the root of my guts.  More than anything, I think these emotions rise up from the moral fabrics that have been instilled in me being from "The ‘Burgh; a sense of brotherhood, family, togetherness and modesty."  If you haven’t been born and raised in this great city, you may not understand, but it’s an unwritten rule in all of the little neighborhoods that border the three rivers; work hard, learn humility and smile above all else.  The city of Pittsburgh got word early Monday morning (12/10/12) that we lost another brother.  It’s time to grieve the lost, but it’s also time to smile, remember and salute the heroes that have grown up in Western Pennsylvania.

From Pennsylvania, since 2003 until today, there have been 196 casualties in Iraq and 83 in Afghanistan, half of which (more or less) are from the Pittsburgh region. On September 15 of this year, Pittsburgh lost yet another serviceman; Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Raible of North Huntingdon and graduate of Norwin High School. The latest just hit the news yesterday; Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas David Checque (Seal Team Six) of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, and a graduate of Norwin High School, as well, was killed during an early Sunday mission to rescue Dr. Dilip Joseph who was kidnapped by Taliban fighters. This was all I could think about yesterday, lying in bed last night and immediately when I woke up this morning. But it’s not about me or my emotions or how I feel. I honestly feel bad constantly typing in the letter “I” as much as I (and again) have so far as these thoughts and words take shape onto this computer screen. This is about the lives that have been dramatically changed forever; the families, fellow soldiers and the friends of the fallen.

Marine Lt. Col.
Christopher Raible
Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque

I didn’t know Christopher or Nicolas, I don’t know their family or their friends but what I do know is that their loved ones are hurting right now.  I’ve seen it personally from the tragic loss of my childhood friend, SSgt, Special Agent David Wieger, KIA 11/1/2007, also a graduate of Norwin High School.  Maybe that’s why I felt a need to write this piece, it’s therapy for me because it hits home, now three separate times.

SSgt., Special Agent David Wieger
We read or hear the phrase “local hero” nearly every day in the media about nearly any sort of emotional, life-saving act, whatever it may have been.  That phrase doesn’t really hit a person’s soul and being until that “local hero” is actually from your local hometown.  Whether you directly know that person or know someone that knows someone that knows that person, you immediately feel a sense of closeness and are inspired to come together one way or another and celebrate the accomplishments of that local hero, and in the case of our local war heroes, you celebrate the good they have done, the people they were and the morals they strived to live for on a daily basis. 
As we move in closer to the Holiday Season and settle in with our families and friends, let’s not forget the true meaning of the holidays; celebrate the ones we love, remember the ones we’ve lost and salute the ones that have died fighting the good fight.

Happy Holidays to all.
Ryan Carmen
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
Golf Operations Manager


Christopher Fulbright said...

You hit the nail on the head! When you have that personal connection to someone who is lost, it does make the world feel a little more empty, it makes you a little sadder. Don't feel bad about writing 'I' all the time. I think most of us feel the same way, and it normalizes our feelings to know that others feel the same also. While I am not from "The 'Burgh", (New Mexico here), I get that same chilling feeling when I see a name I know. Thank you for sharing this!

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