I’m still stunned from my trip to Washington, D.C. a week ago to attend Will’s burial. Seeing such a close friend and wonderful person laid to rest is heartbreakingly sad, but I know why Will wanted to be buried there. Will rests with a pantheon of American heroes from every conflict in American history at Arlington National Cemetery and it’s fitting, because Will Stacey is a true hero who showed me what Marine brotherhood is really all about.
By Dana Milbank
On a flawless spring morning, President Obama stood in the Rose Garden to urge against a hasty retreat from Afghanistan.
“We have a strategy that will allow us to responsibly wind down this war,” he said Tuesday, resisting the calls for a quick exit that were prompted by the slaying of Afghan civilians by a rogue U.S. soldier on Sunday. “Already we’re scheduled to remove 23,000 troops by the end of this summer, following the 10,000 that we withdrew last year.”
A few minutes after Obama spoke those words, I crossed the Potomac to visit with some of those who have already come home, under circumstances nobody wanted. After a decade of wars, more than 800 of them now rest in Arlington National Cemetery. Read more…
Being the mother of Will Stacey has meant being on the receiving end of some very interesting phone calls over the years. I have two favorites from his very early years I want to share with you today. As some of you here will remember, Will was obsessed with military history even when he was very small. During his early “medieval stage”—a stage he was pleased to announce he outgrew around the age of five, clearly wondering why his father and I had not—he organized his playmates at Temple Daycare into a small roving band of Robin Hood type bowmen, firing imaginary arrows drawn from a little yellow shovel stuffed down the back of his shirt that served as a quiver. He also fancied himself quite a knight, his favorite insignia being the royal symbol of the medieval French monarchy, the fleur-de-lis, a three-pointed lily flower that he drew on just about everything he owned. Even at this early age, Will exuded charisma and leadership, and he drew his friends with him into his imaginary medieval world. One day I received a phone call from the worried grandmother of a friend of his. She was baking her grandson’s birthday cake, and it needed to have the shape of a rocket because he was really into rockets. That was all fine; she knew how to do rockets. However, now her grandson had made it clear that no rocket-ship would be acceptable unless it had a fleur-de-lis painted in frosting on the side, and she had no idea what that even was. We sent Will in with a picture for her, and what may be the only rocket in history to bear the medieval insignia of the royal house of France—certainly the only chocolate rocket ever to do so—was pronounced a success by all who attended the party.
Will’s letter to Colin Cameron, August 26, 2009:
“For me, the Marine Corps has been the single most important thing I’ve done in my life, both for my own development as a person and for the simple nature of serving something greater than myself. I will never, and would never, regret joining and all the experiences I’ve had, both good and bad. I’ve seen the horrors of heavy combat in Afghanistan, and the heartbreak of disaster relief operations in Burma/Myanmar. It is heavy stuff; there is nothing easy about any of it, and it’s a big commitment to take on. With that being said, if your heart is truly in it, you will never regret it. Looking back, I still wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. The feeling of pride that you get is something that cannot be explained, as is the importance of the brotherhood you develop with your fellow Marines.”
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.When great trees fall
small things recoil into silence,
eroded beyond fear.
Hello, my name is Paul Teeter. Some of you have known Will for his entire life; others for a short time. I have known him for the last 8 years. Will and I developed a special relationship — as high school friends, then through that special bond that we shared as Marines. Read more…
A memorial service was held Saturday at the University of Washington for a 23-year-old Marine who was killed Jan. 31 in Afghanistan.
Sgt. William C. Stacey grew up in Seattle. His parents, Robert and Robin Stacey, are history professors at the university.
The Defense Department said Stacey was killed by a homemade bomb while on foot patrol. He was on his fourth deployment to Afghanistan.
Stacey was assigned to a unit from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and listed his hometown as Seattle, WA.
A memorial is held in memory of Sgt. William C. Stacey, a Marine from Seattle, Wash., who was killed in combat in Now Zad District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan on January 31, 2012. Stacey served proudly with the “Magnificent Bastards” of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 6th Marine Regiment. In a letter to his family, he wrote, “If my life buys the safety of a child who will one day change the world, then I know it was all worth it.”
FORWARD OPERATING BASE NOW ZAD, Helmand province, Afghanistan – The Marines stand at attention. War-toughened sergeants shout out “here” as their name is called. Leading the formation, 1stSgt Andrew Golding, 45, weapons company first sergeant, from Fort Lauderdale, Fl. calls the roll.
“Sgt. Stacey.” Silence follows. Read more…