In Memoriam


Our Freedom is not free.

The balance on our ledger is paid in blood, by men and women who die wearing a uniform in the service of others.  They are shot, stabbed, burned, mutilated, and torn to pieces.  They die in agony, and they die afraid.  Their blood stains the dirt of countries they do not call home.  They die for an ideal.  They die so we can continue to be free.  They die so that others do not have to.  They die for you, and for me.

They are not nameless, they are not faceless.  They are men and women who come from poverty and from wealth, from the ivory league and the inner cities.  They are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons.

They had lives outside of military service, but they will never get the chance to live them.  They had dreams and aspirations, but they will never get the opportunity to pursue them.  They had time, but they will never get to use it, because they have sacrificed it, for us.

The men and women who die for this country do not provide our freedoms, they protect them.  Love them or hate them, understand their purpose or despise their existence, it doesn’t matter.  Without them, we cease to exist.

A Constitution can create a nation, but it cannot defend it.

A Bill can grant rights, but it cannot protect them.

A Pen can declare war, but it cannot fight one.

Brutality and evil cannot be stopped with words.

We are not perfect, and we never will be, but let us not forget what we have.  We are free to choose our path, and who we want to become.  Free to shape our lives, to chase our desires, dreams, and passions.  We are free to travel, to explore, to change direction, to think, to discuss, to disagree, to argue, to fight, and to love.  We dismiss, ignore, forget, and complain about opportunities and advantages that most will never have access to.  We are free to live in ignorant bliss.

I understand why people forget.

I understand why Memorial Day has become synonymous with a long weekend away from work, barbecues, board shorts, car purchases and appliance sales, instead of the sacrifice that so few among us have made.  Time often seems inconsequential, until you realize you have none left.

Until it touches your life, until you feel the weight of the burden on your shoulders, it is easy to forget.

We are free to forget.

In 2006 I said goodbye to a friend, a man far better than myself.  We completed BUD/s together and later stood shoulder to shoulder as we received our Tridents.  He was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq and his body told the story of that death.  I didn’t want to look at him.  I tried not to.  If you didn’t know him, maybe you would not have noticed the difference.  I did.  I wanted to, I tried to, remember him for who he was, not what remained.

I watched his wife hold his hand.  I watched her kiss his lifeless head for the last time.  I watched as his oldest son stood on his tip toes, his hands on the edge of the coffin, straining to look over the edge.  What he saw were the remains of man who would never again have the chance to hold him, to comfort him, and to raise him.  A man who would miss his highs and lows, his trials and tribulations, and his own journey from child to man.  He saw his father, for the last time.

It tore my heart out.  It hurt more than failure, more than disappointment, and more than getting shot.

Every American needs to witness that scene.

Every American needs to experience that pain.

We would be a better nation for it.

Once you have seen it, once you have felt it, you will never forget.

It costs you nothing to remember.  Not today, not this weekend, and not just on Memorial Day, but every day.

It cost them everything.


Jason Dale Lewis

June 30, 1977 – July 6th, 2007

Father, son, husband, friend, SEAL





33 thoughts on “In Memoriam

  1. “Each of the patriots whom we remember on this day was first a beloved son or daughter, a brother or sister, or a spouse, friend, and neighbor.” — George H. W. Bush

    I’m still for the idea of a one year minimum of mandatory service to our nation or community, by all who partake in its opportunities. So that we better appreciate those who pay the ultimate sacrifice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So very well said. I have not had to hold a brother or sister in arms in my arms as they died, but my brother has and the anguish in his voice when he told me of the experience is something I will never forget and because of it, I honor all those who have made such a sacrifice to protect my freedoms and the ideal for which this country stands. God bless them all.


  3. Thank you for your service Andy and for your continued work you do with the podcast and giving people that have never served and insight into all that you and others go through. Hope you and your family are good and enjoy this Memorial Day weekend that you and others deserve.


  4. Thank you for your service Andy. Thank you for the sacrifices made for all of us. Without the men and women in the Armed Forces, America would not be America. We Remember, Honor and Respect you all. Forever grateful!


  5. Well said, Andy. Every brother and sister that we lose in defense of freedom leaves an indelible mark that is, very unfortunately, most times only noticed and remembered by relatively few who benefit from their selfless sacrifice.

    Like you, I am privileged to have served with and known many who made the ultimate sacrifice, forsaking all that they had and would ever have to preserve that ideal and for the benefit of others. I am and will be eternally grateful to them and the families that they left behind.


  6. Remember. Remember all that has been sacrificed to protect our freedoms. Rest in peace and may the angels hold you close.


  7. Brother,

    Beautiful words, as a nation we need to feel that pain. Took me years to see them as they once were not as how war left them. You’re a good dude, doing great things, making a difference never forgetting. Keep Hammering



  8. Well said my friend. Those who serve, or have served, understand. I was Air Force (30 years), but I never experienced what the front liners do. I did 5 combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. We flew missions (over 200 combat missions), but we did not face the enemy day to day, as the ground combat forces did. We did airdrops to the ground forces and picked them up and brought them back to U.S. bases. We did missions where we brought our fallen soldiers back to a place where they could be transported home. Those were some of the most difficult missions I flew. When I retired, I flew for a major airline and we had some flights where we took some heros home, after they returned to the U.S. That was an honor, but also very difficult. I wish that everyone in America could understand the sacrifice that our soldiers make, everyday. And, it is not just the soldiers, but their families too. God bless every spouse that holds down the fort while we are away. They deserve credit too! For those who have never served and criticize those who have, shame on you. Your freedoms (free speech, and every other right assured by the U.S. Constitution) are available because of the men and women who served, and their families who did all of the things that the service members could not take care of while deployed. The next time you disparage the military (and yes, I’m addressing the NFL, including players and management), you should thank God (which ever one you worship), that there are men and women in the U.S. military who defend your right to express your opinion, even when your opinion is stupid and has no merit. I hope those who disagree with my post will offer some valid rebuttal.



  9. Thank you to my United States Military for giving me the life of freedom. Andy Stumf you are an amazing human being…


  10. Andy always knows how to deliver at the right times. Bravo Zulu sir.
    Amazing post and a great reminder of what Memorial Day is all about
    Thanks You.


  11. Thank you for everything done, said and written. In a small circle of friends we’ve laughed endlessly In memoriam and come together yearly to do the same. For others and ourselves. Sacrifices made abroad are echoed all to often by creeping sadness at home. Easier to remember them in life than focus on life without them. Thanks again.


  12. Great post, Andy. As a healer, it s difficult to not be able to ease pain and suffering. I can only imagine the pain you must have felt to bury someone who was a brother-in-arms. I pray comfort for you. May G-d bless you….and the men you served with.


  13. May God reward him for his service and take his soul to eternal rest with God for all eternity. Well done good and faithful servant.


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