Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 27, 2013

Because of the Brave

On this Memorial Day I have thought much about those who paid the ultimate price to preserve our democratic way of life. I have appreciated all of the televised Memorial Day documentaries, patriotic concerts, and news reports. These are important because they remind us that the freedoms we enjoy were secured at a high cost and should never be taken lightly. America is indeed the land of free and the home of the brave — or perhaps we should say that we are the land of the free because of the brave.

Felipe Garcia WW1

My grandfather, Felipe Garcia. | World War 1

From the time I was a kid, I listened to stories told by family members who served in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. I recall interviewing one of my uncles who had served in the Second World War for a school report. When I asked him why he had enlisted to fight in the war, he said without hesitation, “To give Hitler hell!” Of course, I had to edit his response for my school report. He was however, more hesitant to talk about what he had experienced in battle. The memories of lost comrades was still painful to him.

Dad with Crew Chiefs at Spangdahlem

Dad with Crew Chiefs at Spangdahlem Air Base. | 2010 | Germany

For those who have served in the various branches of our military, Memorial Day has always had a deeper significance — a special meaning known only to those who have suffered the loss of comrades in arms. My uncle Roberto Gonzales served as a gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress in the Second World War. He survived two dozen combat missions only to be killed in an air mishap while training new recruits after returning home. The Veterans of Foreign Wars post in my hometown is named after him.

Craig : VN2

Craig Reynolds in search and rescue helicopter. | Vietnam.

As a high school trumpet player, I was regularly called upon to play taps at many funerals of young men who were killed in combat in Vietnam. And, over the past thirty-five years in ministry, I have officiated at many military funerals. Last year I spoke at the funeral of my brother-in-law, Navy Captain Craig Reynolds. Craig flew rescue missions in Vietnam and ended his career as the Commander of the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. The stories Craig shared with me before his death gave me a more profound appreciation for those who put themselves in harm’s way so that we don’t have to.

Craig Reynolds

Captain Craig Reynolds

So, on this Memorial Day, I am again deeply grateful for all of the men and women who have so honorably served our country and paid the highest price for our freedoms. May their sacrifices inspire us to honor their lives and their gift to each of us who live in the land of the free.

Craig Reynolds Grave


  1. Dear Omar,
    It stirred my heart when I read your blog and you honored and remembered Craig, once again. He was the epitome of a true patriot that fought for his country and fellowman. I was very honored to be his wife. I visited his grave this past weekend. It was so moving to see all the American Flags that were placed on each grave at the Veterans Cemetery. Thank you for your beautiful words describing the man he was.

    With Love and appreciation,
    Cindie Reynolds

    • Thanks, Cindie. I thought a lot about Craig on Memorial Day. I am thankful for his service to our country and the time we had him in our family. Love and regards.

  2. Thanks for the lovely tribute to your family members and reminder to be thankful to those who served. Clara McSpadden


    • You’re welcome, Clara. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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