Memorial Day 2006: SGT. Kenneth Schall
The 2006 Memorial Day service honored 22-year-old Sgt. Kenneth Schall who was killed in Iraq in May 2005 and buried on Memorial Day last year.
The program began with the presentation of Colors by the American Legion Post, a performance by a lone bagpiper, and a parade on the grounds by the Arizona Roughriders, Northern Arizona All Airborne and the (ROTC) Young Marines Color Guard. Not cowed by the ACLU, there was a passionate invocation by the VA Chaplain for those that fought and were lost and for those that returned, and for those still defending our freedoms against insidious evil. Given the loud, “Amen” at the close, there was no doubt in my mind what answer would have been given by those present had anyone dared ask, “Why are we fighting in Iraq?” The few hundred assembled loudly proclaimed their Pledge of Allegiance to the flag as one nation under God.
We were treated to a moving and fervent rendition of our National Anthem (in English) by the late Sgt. Schall’s younger sister, Jessica. After a too-long performance of patriotic songs by a local group of singers, Sgt. Schall’s mother Terri addressed the crowd.
Terri Schall told us the story of her delightful and brave son who had a passion for the work he did in the Army. She told the story of his tenacity -- how he had crawled out on the 2nd story window ledge at his barracks to harass and convince a buddy to accompany him for a late night pizza after he had been turned down by the buddy five or six times.
This Gold Star Mother, her voice occasionally breaking, told us how close he was to his new brothers, his commitment to the mission, how “his troops” gladly followed him because they trusted him and his leadership. She told us all how much she loved her son, how hard this past year had been, how proud she was of him and the sacrifice he had made. There wasn’t a dry eye visible as she told how the family had traveled to Ft. Riley to attend the welcome home ceremony and celebration for 2/70AR and how she cherished the hugs and stories from her son’s buddies.
Of course, from the moment she began speaking, tears filled my eyes and quickly spilled down my cheeks. It was hard to control the sobs when she told us that the last time she had spoken to her son was on Mother’s Day 2005 and how he had told her he loved her and she had told him that she loved him, too, and that she was so proud of him. The Vietnam vet next to me that I met just minutes before borrowed a tissue, and we stood arm in arm as Mrs. Schall spoke. I watched Kenny’s father, sister Jessica and brother Matthew, aunts, uncles and cousins weep as Terri thanked them and the military community for their support this past year.
Next, Sgt. Kenneth Schall’s mother and sister placed a wreath in front of the new memorial to the veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom -- the large brass memorial that the Schall family donated and now permanently placed beneath the towering flagpole at the medical center. Between the boots, at the base of the inverted rifle holding the helmet, they had lovingly placed pictures of their son, brother, nephew and friend. The honor guard -- former Marines and the Arizona Roughriders -- issued a 21-gun salute, and two soldiers now in their 80's rendered an echo version of "Taps" that brought new tears from those assembled.
Thank you Sgt. Schall, thank you to his family, too.
Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.