We started wearing our KIA (Killed in Action) bracelet back in 2004. Our bracelet, with Cpl William M. Amundson Jr's name, will stay on our wrist until the war is over. It has come off only for x-rays, MRIs and TSA screenings since we put it on.
Bracelet Story #2:
Many years ago we were at an airport waiting for a shuttle bus to take us from the long-term parking lot to the terminal. It was busy. We stood in a crowd and when the bus arrived, it too was crowded. I was able to get a seat but the bus filled with standing passengers at later stops. Nobody was talking. The only noise was the diesel engine.
A blond lady about our age was seated across from me, barely visible with all the standing passengers between us. We had gotten on at the same stop.
I felt like I was being watched. After a few moments I hear, "Excuse me, what is that bracelet?"
Now the only conversation in the bus, everybody else listened in.
I explained that it is a Killed in Action bracelet. It commemorates the ultimate sacrifice of one of our lost soldiers. It has the soldier's name, unit, date of death, and the war zone where they died.
She asked if I knew the person named on the bracelet. This is a common question.
I explained that the bracelets are ordered at Ranger Joe's and that the soldier's name is random unless you specify otherwise. I did not know the guy.
She asked why I wear it.
I explained that I once served in the Army. That my fondest memories are of the people I served with. That since I could not fight with them now, that I'd wear this every day to support them and pay tribute to their service.
It was then that I noticed she too had a bracelet. Similar, but stainless. Not a KIA bracelet. I had to ask: "What about your bracelet?" Now everybody on the bus is listening.
She held it out and it had a name too. And what she said next caused sniffles and wiped eyes among everyone on the bus, including yours truly.
"This was my husband. He was in Tower 2."
I reached out and held her hand. I don't recall the conversation after that.
When we arrived at the terminal, everybody let her and her husband get off first. I waited for the crowd to leave, (and for my eyes to dry up a bit). She and her husband were waiting for me when I finally stepped off the bus.
I told her how sorry I was for her loss. She thanked me for wearing the bracelet. We hugged, we each wiped away our tears, her husband and I shook hands, and then we went on our way.
The bracelet is not a prop.
It is not a political statement.
It is not a means to an end.
It is a private tribute to America's best.
Eleven years ago today. Those poor people in the planes, the towers, the Pentagon. Their families. My son who was 9 year old and who, with me and my wife, watched the towers fall and the world change. Those heroes on Flight 93, and the heroes in uniform who have sacrificed since. Not just the KIA's, but every person in uniform who have missed children's birthdays, little league games, dance recitals, and who have lost time with everyone they love.
God bless our troops.
This bracelet stays on until the war is over.