SEATTLE – Bob Stacey, a University of Washington history professor, acknowledges the apple didn’t fall from the tree.
“He had a strong historical sense,” says about his son William, one of 15 soldiers honored at a solemn ceremony near the Wall of Remembrance at Benaroya Hall Monday. “Guys always joked that he was never without a book.”
Marine Sgt. William Stacey died back on January 31st after the military says a homemade bomb exploded during a patrol in South Afghanistan. Bob says shortly after getting the word, his family discovered a “in case of death” letter that William wrote before he left for basic training in early January 2007.
Bob says it helped him understand why his son wanted to go back to Afghanistan again, and again. He was fulfilling his fourth tour during the time of the explosion. On Monday, as Stacey’s name was unveiled on the Wall in Seattle, Marine General John Allen read a portion of the letter aloud at a Memorial Day ceremony half a world away in Kabul.
Bob Stacey says he’ll never view Memorial Day the same way again.
“Just last week, a second lieutenant from UW killed on his 1st deployment. (Lt. Travis Morgado) We cried. It’s just one more guy lost. From here on out we’ll remember everybody who has been lost but especially the men and women from Afghanistan. It’ll never be a shopping holiday. That’s for sure.”
His family released the full “in case of” letter late Monday afternoon:
“If you’re reading this letter, then my time on this earth has come to an end. There is no easy way to explain the way that I feel; no words that can possibly ease the pain that I’m sure you all are feeling. But if it is any help, know that I died doing what I believed in and most importantly, what I wanted to be doing.
For so many years now, I have wanted to be a soldier and above that, a Marine. There are few things more important to me than that. The Marines are a brotherhood that has stood for 232 years. It is a brotherhood born out of struggle, sacrifice and success. And the price of success causes pain to so many. Over the years so many have died, just as I have. Every Marine hopes that he will never have to make the ultimate sacrifice; but everyone is willing to. There is no Marine on this green earth I have ever met that would put his own safety above that of his loved ones. We do this for the ones we care about; we do this because we believe that the good of the masses is worth more than that of ourselves.
I sit here in that same green room that I have known so long. The glow of the computer screens. Safe in the comfort that you have given me for so many years. I owe to you, and to this country, a debt that I could not ever hope to repay. But this is my attempt.
There are so many things wrong with this world and too few who care enough to do anything about them. Perhaps I joined the Marines as an idealist. But I’ve learned and dug deep down for what I truly believe. My death did not change the world….it may be tough for you to justify its meaning at all. But there is a greater meaning to it. Perhaps I did not change the world. Perhaps there is still injustice in the world. But there will be a child who will live because men left the security they enjoyed in their home country to come to his. And this child will learn in the new schools that have been built. He will walk his streets not worried about whether or not his leader’s henchmen are going to come and kidnap him. He will grow into a fine man who will pursue every opportunity his heart could desire. He will have the gift of freedom, which I have enjoyed for so long. If my life buys the safety of a child who will one day change this world, then I know that it was all worth it.
Semper Fidelis means always faithful. Always faithful to God, Country and Corps. Always faithful to the principles and beliefs that guided me into the service. And on that day in October when I placed my hand on a Bible and swore to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, I meant it. Please lay me to rest with a full military burial. Please also alert everyone in my phone book to my passing, and inform the Patriot Guard Riders so that they may provide an escort at my funeral.
If I am on life support and stand a very good chance of never recovering enough to be any kind of productive, please take me off of it. I will let final discretion go to you, but I would rather die as a soldier than live the rest of my life as a cabbage.
In death, as in life, ever yours, Will.”