Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Be part of something bigger than yourself

I came across a link some days back while browsing the net. I got the link from a friend in twitter. Its called 1001 rules for my unborn son. Its an awesome source of small tips that a father-to-be is jotting down for his unborn son. The list has reached No. 376 as of today. Each day I've been checking this site for updates. The site has got a tremendous number of rules which many would want their kids to know. Most of these are what one would classify under common-sense. There are some recommended songs for the kid, some wonderful snaps which tell about the world we live in and then there are sprayed in between some lovely quotes; some inspiring, some funny and some outright thought provoking.

Like these

Since the dawn of parking lots, man has sought to fill his gut with food and alcohol in anticipation of watching others exercise. - Homer Simpson

The public has always expected me to be a playboy, and a decent chap never lets his public down. - Errol Flynn

Good clothes open all doors. - Thomas Fuller

You get my point right! One such quote i got from this site was

Be part of something bigger than yourself. - MAJ Doug Zembiec USMC
The quote was from a unheard of Major in the USMC(US Marine Corps). I found it a rather profound statement amidst the funny and comical statements in the list. The link given with the name took me to the website of the Arlington Cemetery which is the burial ground of men killed in action in the US. I was overwhelmed by the writeup given about Maj. Zembiec, which went on to tell about his valour and bravery which earned him the name The Lion of Fallujah a moniker he no doubt earned under fire.

Major Zembiec was killed in action during a Baghdad firefight. He had previously distinguished himself several times on the battlefield – earning a Bronze Star (with the Combat “V”) and two Purple Hearts.H e was, by all accounts, a Marine’s Marine. There are few higher honors one Marine can bestow upon another.

The page had some touching snaps and the write up gave accounts from his subordinates, colleagues and family members.

You can tell a lot about a man by the people who make the effort to attend his funeral. Zembiec was laid to rest in the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. Some 40 of Zembiec’s enlisted men were in attendance – some coming from as far away as Camp Pendleton in California. One Marine officer was quoted as saying “Your men have to follow your orders; they don't have to go to your funeral.

Also in attendance were some 15 generals in addition to several other active-duty and retired Marine officers. Again, nobody is required to attend these ceremonies. One can tell he had the respect of those he served under, and those he commanded. I found a photo essay tribute to Major Zembiec here.

I was touched by some thoughts Zembiec had jotted down in several notebooks – things he wanted to accomplish, things he wanted to impart unto others. Here’s what was shared with the Washington Post’s Dan Morse:
  1. Become the greatest husband and father ever.
  2. Be a man of principle. Fight for what you believe in. Keep your word. Live with integrity. Be brave. Believe in something bigger than yourself. Serve your country.
  3. Teach. Mentor. Give something back to society. Lead from the front. Conquer your fears. Be a good friend. Be humble and be self-confident.
  4. Appreciate your friends and family. Be a leader and not a follower. Be valorous on the field of battle. And take responsibility for your actions.
Most of the above quoted lines came under the heading “Principles my father taught me.” Would that we had more fathers imparting such wisdom unto their sons and daughters.

I am remembered these lines from history when people speak about him.

Day by day, fix your eyes upon the greatness of Athens, until you become filled with the love of her; and when you are impressed by the spectacle of her glory, reflect that this empire has been acquired by men who knew their duty and had the courage to do it.
- Thucydides, The Funeral Speech for Pericles

Another touching set of words that made me truly respect this man was a letter he wrote to the mother of a soldier who was killed.
"Your son was killed in action today. Despite intense enemy machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire, your son fought like a lion. He remained in his fighting position until all his wounded comrades could be evacuated from the rooftop they were defending. It was during his courageous defense of his comrades that Aaron was hit by enemy fire.... With the exception of the Marines on Security, every man in the company attended the service. Aaron was respected and admired by every Marine in his company. His death brought tears to my eyes, tears that fell in front of my Marines. I am unashamed of that fact."
- Douglas Zembiec, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, writing to the mother of Aaron C. Austin, included in Operation Homecoming by Andrew Carroll
This shows his respect for those who serve with him and that is what earned him the praise of men around him. May his soul rest in peace and his tale inspire millions to take up this fight against the horrors of terrorism and other forces of evil.

Don't Let The Memory Of The Brave Drift Away


Vinitha Vasanth said...

Nice .. touching post ..
Thanks for bringing these valuable thoughts to our notice ..
Personally, I loved "the priciples my father taught me"

Abhilash Suryan said...

But alas!!
Such brave men die fighting unnecessary wars on behalf of scheming white collar warlords!!

Can someone be called a real leader when he leads youngsters to untimely deaths and himself dies fighting someone else's war.....brave and sensitive men are easy to manipulate!! I wonder!!

Touching post though, especially for someone who had been stocking books for his unborn children :-)

Hari said...

Agree with Abhilash Sir. Turns out the greatest poets are those who've seen the ultimate suffering in the battlefield. TS Eliot is the quintessential battle-poet. It's like, the mindless bloodshed enlightens these people in some way, and I guess The inspiring thoughts by Doug Zembiac could be an eventual result of the war!

Sad to know that such talented people are lost, only to needless wars and bloodshed! When will we realize the importance of peace and brotherhood?! :(

The post brought me to tears!

Anonymous said...

Abhilash... sadly you knew neither Major Zembiec nor what he was actually fighting for. Were you to have known Doug you'd never dare question his leadership and had you known his pursuit you'd have to admire it.

There's a war within a war... and he was fighting it.

raku da said...

That was really remarkable. Each and every word was equivalent to a self-explanatory portrait of incidents and illustrations were extravagant.
I wish, one day, I'll gift my kids the following Booker prize winning book :
"The Chronicles of Abhijith : By Abhijith B.

nandu-legendinthemaking said...

A touching post... Good one bro!!