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Archive for the ‘Memorial Day’ Category

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When you look in the mirror, what do you see? I wonder what he saw? Did he look below the surface? Did he ever think he might be wrong? More on that in a moment.

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Touring a museum has only given me goose bumps twice. Once was in Europe in 2008, while viewing relics of history from an event that changed the world. The other time was today when I accompanied my kids to the 45th Infantry Division museum here in OKC.

I’ve always wanted to visit this museum, thinking it to be a nice collection of old tanks and airplanes. Little did I know how much more was there to be seen. As I was looking in a mirror hanging in the Germany exhibit room, a museum docent approached and said the chilling words: “That is the mirror that Hitler groomed himself in on the day that he killed himself in the Berlin bunker”.

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What did I see in the mirror today? A guy wearing an OCA t-shirt, an EMHS hat, and an OC jacket. Each piece reflected something about me, but were largely just a uniform of externals. What is going on inside the man? What is he about? What does he say? What does he do? If history remembers him, will it be for good or for bad?

How about the mirror’s previous owner? What did he see? What did he think, delusional though he may have been? While it was chilling to look at myself in his mirror, a mirror simply reflects what is currently before it.

What about the lessons of history? I love studying and examining history, and I love the veterans that remain with us and were recently honored during their day a week or so ago. As I have visited other lands and met the generations of citizens who call their home something other than the USA, I wonder what they are thinking. What do they see in us today? What do they think? If we look in the same mirror, do we see entirely different views? Who is right, and who is wrong? Absent an obvious moral issue, do people really see that clearly?

The following pairings of pictures reflect images of the time, the mid 20th Century war to end all wars. The second of each pair is an image from today in the museum in middle America, a reflection as we see it in the mirror of history. The first of each pair of images is from the museum in Europe, albeit not from Germany itself.

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When you look in the mirror, what do you see? I wonder what others see? Do we look below the surface? Did we ever think we might be wrong?

Touring a museum has only given me goose bumps twice, and today was one of those days.

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His name was Kyle. He was an amazing young man. I first met Kyle almost 9 years ago, in June of 2002, while passing through the St Louis airport. Our paths crossed a few more times on the OC campus, with short visits on each occasion. Kyle shared with me only a few of his great dreams, and service to country was at the heart of them all. And then, he was gone. I still remember the shock the morning we learned of his loss. If you did not know Kyle, his obituary will be shared at the end of this post, and hopefully you will get some sense for what this man was all about.

My family and I are taking our annual school break summer pilgrimage, this year to the beach. Along the way, we planned for a stop in Vicksburg, Mississippi to tour the battlefield memorials. As we began today worshipping with the Bypass Church of Christ, the minister had some thoughts and emotions to share regarding Memorial Day. And it reminded me of Kyle. I have not thought about him in admittedly quite some time. The last time was while scanning a serviceman’s memorial at the D-Day museum in New Orleans some time ago.

My grandfather, Howard Pope, was a Midshipman in the Navy during WWII. He made it home from serving to be reunited with wife and family. Another family member, Alec, was not so blessed. Originally interred in a cemetery near Norway, France, his body came home to rest in Texas some years later. I remember men like Howard, whom I knew and loved, and Alec, whom I never met but whose name I repeat almost daily and whose face I see in so many of my family members.

I traditionally hang the American flag from our house on Memorial Day. As we are not there for me to do so this year, may this post serve as a digital display to honor the fallen, whether from 1812, 1863, 1913, 1944, 2004, or today in 2011.

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As we toured the site in Vicksburg today, my thoughts were focused on young men who were lost so many years ago. In retrospect, the cause seems so obvious. Why would anyone want to fight to keep people enslaved? And yet, the freedoms and cultural diversity shared this morning at the Bypass Church reminded us why others would fight to help others be free.

I think that is why Kyle wanted so badly to serve our nation, and in so doing, to serve our world. He wanted to share some of that same freedom.

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Danton ‘Kyle’ Seitsinger was born in Oklahoma City October 4, 1974, to Dan and Jo Seitsinger. He died serving his country in Afghanistan on January 29, 2004. Kyle graduated from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, MO, in May of 1993. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps on December 7, 1993. During his six and a half year tour of duty, Kyle guarded U.S. embassies in Brasilia, Moscow and the consulate in Rio de Janeiro. At each of his stops, men of his company gave spontaneous awards to Kyle for his leadership style. Kyle was also an expert marksman and rifle instructor at Camp Pendleton. He was named ‘Top Gun’ at his embassy school graduation in Quantico, VA. Of the 150 Marines who started the program, only 50 graduated, including Kyle. Kyle enrolled in Oklahoma Christian University in the fall of 2000. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves when he enrolled in OC, and was a senior when he was called into active duty in November 2003, just 12 months short of his graduation with a dual major in journalism and Spanish. While at OC, Kyle worked for the Talon, the student newspaper, serving as an editor for two years. In 2002, Kyle was selected as one of sixteen student journalists to participate in the Summer Institute in Journalism sponsored by the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities. His assignments included interviews with the Colombian president as well as U.S. representatives Ernest Istook and J.C. Watts. In 2003, Kyle spent six months in Costa Rica in a program designed to immerse the learner in the Spanish language. He had expressed an interest in a career of service in the U.S. diplomatic corps in South America and was an aspiring photojournalist. Kyle’s adventurous spirit blended well with the Marines, who showed him the world. He grew from a tempestuous child to a disciplined, confident young man. His college newspaper columns covered everything from world affairs to his opinion of the ‘ridiculous’ logo his university adopted. Kyle embraced a journalism career and aimed high, with hopes of being a photojournalist and a foreign war correspondent, perhaps even winning a Pulitzer Prize or two. Meanwhile, he enthusiastically covered high school games and worked as a copy messenger at The Oklahoman, realizing he had dues to pay before getting there. Kyle made many friends at The Oklahoman who remember him fondly. Kyle’s down to earth, gregarious personality attracted friends of all kinds. In Brasilia, he ‘adopted’ two young poor girls and urged his family to send them gifts. He rarely missed a chance to practice Spanish or Portuguese with natives. Despite their cultural differences, Kyle always knew what to say and how to keep them talking. Kyle wasted no time, rising early to explore the many cities he visited. It’s as though he knew he needed a faster pace to complete his life. We’ll cherish the many stories that surround Kyle’s antics, his cleverness and his special kind of audacity. We’ll miss you, Kyle, always. Our solace comes in knowing that you have invigorated our souls and taught us that love is stronger than death. Kyle is survived by his father, Dan, his mother, Jo, and two sisters, Karla Seitsinger of New York City and Penny Owen Cockerell of Dallas. In lieu of memorials, the family requests that donations be made to Wentworth Military Academy, 1880 Washington Avenue, Lexington, MO, 64067 and the Gridiron Club, c/o Don Schmidt, 330 N. Country Club Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064, which provides journalism scholarships.

Obituary originally published in The Oklahoman on February 7, 2004.

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