I met a little boy the other day. He shook my hand with a good firm grip, while looking me right in the eye. He seemed to have a confidence born of recent experience. Just seven years old, his name is Aidan.
Aidan stood out in the crowd, because he was so small—and because of the seeming unfairness that he’d even have to be where he was when I met him.
A funeral home.
He’ll surely remember the whirlwind of recent events in his life for all of his days on earth. The image of his mother weeping—grandmother, too—in fact, an entire, quite large, immediate and extended grieving family, will be something he’ll be processing as he grows up without his daddy.
Army Staff Sgt. Christopher F. Cabacoy (30) “took his job seriously,” said his uncle, Felipe, adding—“He joined the Army and put himself in harm's way to serve the country." That willingness took him from home and hearth in Virginia Beach, Virginia—from his high school sweetheart, then bride, then mother of his son, now young widow, Tamara—to the rugged and foreboding battleground of Afghanistan.
He was killed, along with one of his brother-band, Pfc Edwin C. Wood (18) of Omaha, Nebraska, when an improvised explosive device (known all-too familiarly these days simply as an “IED”) was used by insurgents in Kandahar to destroy their vehicle.
Cabacoy was laid to rest on Friday, with the honors due—formal and informal. Brigadier General, Jeffrey Banister, USAR, presented the fallen soldier’s family with posthumous decorations, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. A carefully folded flag was presented to the young widow, along with a hushed-toned, but heartfelt expression:
“This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service.”
Hovering ever so honorably nearby was a group of people who have become a fixture on such occasions—men and women with their motorcycles and unmistakable attire. They’re called Patriot Guard Riders. Their initial efforts were designed to provide a shield for grieving families—a shield from the antics and atrocious behavior of deranged and depraved cultists, who, in the name of some misguided notions of “righteousness,” feel duty bound to defile that most sacred of familial moments.
But the work of the Patriot Guard Riders has gone way beyond that—though this is still very much in their minds. They describe themselves as “a diverse amalgamation of riders from across the nation,” adding: