Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives

Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives

Jim Sheeler

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0143115456

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


They are the troops that nobody wants to see, carrying a message that no military family ever wants to hear. Since the start of the war in Iraq, Marines like Major Steve Beck found themselves charged with a mission they never asked for and one for which there can be no training: casualty notification. In Final Salute, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jim Sheeler weaves together the stories of the fallen, the broken homes they have left behind, and one man's effort to help heal the wounds of those left grieving. But it is not a book about war, politics, or liberal vs. conservative. Achingly beautiful and honest, it is a book that every American-every human-can embrace.

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until the baby’s born,’” Melissa said. "Then on Valentine’s Day they got the orders.” Bean, I never got to see you but I know in my heart you are beautiful. I will always have with me the feel of the soft nudges on your mom’s belly, and the joy I felt when we found out you were on the way. I dream of you every night, and I always will. Don’t ever think that since I wasn’t around that I didn’t love you. You were conceived of love and I came to this terrible place for love. Please understand that

that looked like the landscape. Many wore old caps and uniforms stitched with distinctive patches — Airborne, Special Forces, and the revered combat infantry badge — along with dozens of gleaming medals. On the back of their caps, some also wore a single eagle feather. At the front of the tepee, a funeral director opened the casket. CORPORAL BRETT LEE Lundstrom grew up in the wake of warriors. Among his distant relations was Dewey Beard, also known by the Lakota Sioux name Iron Hail, who fought

they’re all kind of on a happy note, that they were able to live their lives to their fullest and pass away peacefully. It’s tough to come out here when... {His voice trailed off.} Before I came out, I was already drained emotionally. The best thing I could do all week was just keep training to keep it off my mind. Here it’s the only thing you can think of. And seeing Katherine out there right now is tough. It’s just a nightmare you wish you could wake up from. I’m sure Katherine is thinking the

the wake, grandmothers were hugging him, crying, saying, ’Don’t go,’” his mother said. "He said, ’I’m going to go back.’ He said, ’I have a job to finish, and I can’t leave my buddies behind.’ Of course my thoughts were ’What about your mom?’ But I didn’t say anything. I would never have said don’t go, because I know that would have made it hard on him. I said, ’Dad and I understand.’” After he arrived back in the United States from his tour in Iraq and set out on a long road trip to clear his

the neighbor’s phone number. ”Did the chaplain come to the door?" Doyla knew by his expression what was said on the other end of the line. She pulled the car over, took the phone, and called the boys’ father, who lived in Detroit. The men in uniform had already come to his door. When he answered the phone, Ed Lundstrom was crying, choking on the words. ”Which one was it?" she asked, but he was too overcome to answer. She screamed into the telephone: ”Which one was it?" For what seemed like

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