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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make room for her. Jim Cathey’s mother, father, and sister took their own time with the casket, caressing the flag. His mother, Caroline, thought of the baby who used to reach out to her from the crib. His father, Jeff, saw the boy he watched grow into a man on long hunting trips through the barren landscape. His sister, Joyce, saw the kid who became her protector. The day after she learned of his death, she had the image of his face tattooed on the back of her neck. That way, she said, he

the family while they’re falling.” 2 Navy Corpsman HM3 Christopher "Doc" Anderson Longmont, Colorado A NAVY CORPSMAN LOOKED at the blue star in the window and the name underneath, and felt his entire body wince. As a hazy winter sunset draped the foothills in the suburbs of Longmont, Colorado, the eyes of Navy Chief Petty Officer Kip "Doc" Poggemeyer fixed on the blue star flag, signifying the family had a loved one overseas. CHRISTOPHER A. "Doc" ANDERSON, the flag’s stitching read. The

after all, a lawn mower sat outside and a sprinkler head was exposed, leaving a job unfinished. Maybe the parents had just stepped inside. The Marines made the long walk. No one answered the door. They retreated to the vehicle. A neighbor drove up, glanced at the Marines, and pulled into an adjacent driveway. Once inside, the neighbor looked out a window at them. The Marines shifted in their seats—as if they weren’t uncomfortable enough already. When Caroline Cathey drove up, she saw the

no, he’ll say, ’Well, my daddy would have bought it for me.’ If I’m in a certain mood, I’ll give in.” At home she tried to fill in for Jesse, playing video games with Dakota and organizing make-believe light saber battles with both boys. Still, she says, she’ll never master "the daddy thing.” "He always made time to go outside, to the park, to the mountains,” she said. "I’m not into the outdoors.” In hopes of rekindling some of those excursions, Melissa enrolled Dakota in Cub Scouts and

Maybe it’s just because I knew how Brett felt. He wanted to be doing what he was doing. He wanted to be in Iraq.... I don’t know I just don’t know.” Doyla has since moved back to the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota to be near the land she can see in the dark, the place the military lifestyle kept her from for so long. In a way her son’s death has helped her realize who she is and always has been. She is attending more sweat lodges and powwows and is learning about the traditions that she

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