Gravesite at Fort Rosecrans of CPL Gregory "Shorty" Millard 82nd Airborne KIA May 26, 2007 while serving his country in Iraq by an IED.
I hope that all of you are enjoying the great waves and weather, and are having a fantastic Memorial Day.
I also hope, that each and every one of you will take some time today to reflect on the sacrifices made by our heroes in the armed services so that all of us here can enjoy great waves and great weather.
As has been said many times,"Freedom ain't free". It's paid for by the selfless acts of courage and love of country by our men and women in uniform.
One of my heroes, is Gregorty Nolan Millard, AKA "Shorty" to his family and friends, who paid the ultimate price, to keep this Nation free.
The above image is of the 15th anniversery and and annual gathering at his final place of rest, at National Cemetary Fort Rosecrans taken today.
Shorty didn't surf, but he grew up here and went to school here, and just like many of you,I have known him since he was born, and his family since they opened up California Bicycle 47 years ago originally on Pearl and now for many years on the corner of Pearl and La Jolla Blvd.
On May 26th, "Shorty" would have been 37 years old. It's hard for me, not to dwell on his life, and the lives of every father, mother son, daughter, brother, sister and friend who donned a military uniform and died while serving their country, our country!
I imagine, that he would be working with his dad and brother at the family business. I imagine that everytime I walk into the shop, he would playfully give me a hard time about something, anything, just like his Dad and his Brother do to this day. I imagine he would be married with kids of his own. I imagine that during those special times of the year, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birthdays, Graduations, etc. he would be with his family and friends celebrating life. I imagine that unlike today, his Mom would have tears of joy running down her face, not tears from a pain, that will never go away.
I also think and imagine about our old friend, Jeff Junkins, US Army Special Forces, who returned home, but later paid the ultimate price for his service.
I think about not surfing with him anymore, his smile and what an incredible friend he was to many of us. I think about his good and wise advice on many subjects.
I think about, how great a father and grandfather he could have been.
I think about how much I, and all of us who knew him, miss him!
After "Shorty's" anniversery, while walking back to my truck through the seemingly endless rows of perfectly spaced, and perfectly kept grave markers for the thousands and thousands who call Fort Rosecrans home, I became lost in thought as I imagined about every soul I was walking by and walking over. As I observed names, dates of birth, dates of death and what war they fought in, I imagined as much as I could about each and everyone of them until it all became a dizzying blur, as if they all came alive in my mind at the same time, each one telling me about their lives, loves, battles won and lost. I stood still for a moment, emptied my mind, looked out over the entrance to the harbor and out to sea, and after a moment, a calm came over me. I looked out over the ocean of grave markers and American Flags and I thanked them all for their service, their sacrifce and wished them a Happy Memorial Day.
A Happy Windansea Memorial Day to all of you.