August 18, 2010

Has It Really Been Five Years...

Sergeant Michael Stokely KIA August 16, 2005 near Yusifiyah, Iraq

Has it really been 5 years? Honestly it does not seem like that to me, but to Mike's family I imagine that it feels like a lifetime has gone by since they saw him last.

I never met Sgt. Stokely, but have been introduced to him through conversations with his father Mr. Robert Stokely. After only one conversation with Mr. Stokely it’s obvious that Mike was one of those men that you should have known: a devoted son he helped his father canvas for votes in his first election for County Solicitor, a son who according to his doctors was not supposed to live, but who in the end lived a life so full and purposeful that he touched, in a positive way, the lives all those with whom he came in contact.

Son, a simple three letter word, but one that is so full of meaning, a word that explains the conundrum of Mike Stokely and so many of those who have died in war and peace - a word that by itself in one breath defines the link to the father and the path to the future. It’s not hard to imagine after spending a few hours with Mr. Stokely the kind of son that Mike was, and by extension the kind of man he had become. Mike Stokely was without a doubt a man sure of himself and his place in this world. He knew not what to expect when he agreed to become a Scout in the U.S. Army, but he accepted that challenge like he accepted the challenge placed upon him by God. He lived his life’s purpose.

Mike like those before him, and the thousands of those who will follow, chose to leave the comforts of home and hearth, the predictable daily life of a civilian and took up the path of a warrior in service to his country. A life fraught with danger but also immense satisfaction and camaraderie, a life that most American’s will thankfully never know because men like Mike, serve while many debate.

Service - that is the life Mike chose. Service to an ideal greater than any known to man for not only did Mike serve his country, he served his God. He accepted his purpose in life and lived it without question and in doing so he gave his only life in service to his God so that his brothers might live.

Sgt Mike Stokely died 5 years and 2 days ago in a place called Yusifiyah, Iraq but the memory of Sgt. Mike Stokely will never die for it lives on in all of us that continue his work, spread his message and live our life’s purpose. I can only hope that one day I grow up to be the man he expects me to be.

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