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They are soldiers too. That is something the Filipino nation should know!

The families of the 19 soldiers killed in an MILF-Abu Sayyaf ambush in Basilan are now starting to bury their brave dead. The flag draped caskets are blessed by the priests, taps and the final salute is fired. The coffin is then laid into the tomb.

At the end of these military ceremonies whatever the rank of the dead soldier, the flag is lifted from the casket before entombment and folded in the way that every boy scout learns on the first days of service to God, Country and People. The folded flag is presented by the senior officer on graveside duty to the spouse, or if the soldier is not married, to the parents with the words

"A grateful Republic thanks your son/daughter/husband/wife for his/her service"

The Republic will forever be grateful. The soldier does not guarantee freedom as mistakenly assumed by some. It is the Constitution that does so. The soldier takes the oath to defend the Constitution and rest of the citizenry are just asked to live it and perhaps defend it too when called to service.

A family grieves for a fallen soldier.
And then the ceremonies end and the family is left to grieve for a moment more and then to soldier on! There is no choice but to soldier on. And to soldier on until victory and the elusive peace is indeed victorious!

The parents, spouse and children of soldiers are soldiers too and to the end of their lives for they will always carry the memory of their dead.  I am a son of a soldier and to the end of my days I am a soldier too.
Dad and I at the start of my service to my country

When I was growing up I expected my father to come home in a box. And this is not some metaphor but a reality that we had to face. And of course the children have to bear the weight of duty, keeping the home front secure, to make the quick decisions that count, obey a command and to see that life is normal. And that is the only mission, to see that life goes on as normally as possible, not much difference from the family next door whose father has a civilian job.

And there were no "family days". Whatever family days we had were in an army camp. And as we grew into adulthood we had to do the duty of service for the country. And that is where you find us now.

My father did not come home in a box. He retired from the service and passed away 20 years ago. But we were to do our duty still and that is to soldier on for the country.

My heart goes to the families of the brave soldiers. The politicians who cry for justice for votes in the next election cannot fathom that idea of soldiering on. But the wife a slain corporal said it best

"I have no regrets. We have to fight on!"


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