Baytown Sun 06/01/07:
Teardrops go with memorials
By Jim Finley
Published June 1, 2007
It was a Memorial Day like no other I can recall. Fate played a role.
There was, of course, the Indianapolis 500 the day before. I do love that race so. Have since I was a little kid.
As always, there was a time for remembrance.
There was also a nice family gathering late Monday afternoon. The rain was pelting down, but so what? We were together, and thatís all that mattered.
Nothing unusual there, Iíll admit. Pretty much like the Memorial Days of bygone years.
But by pure happenstance, a show on HGTV turned my day upside down. It implanted a message and a visual picture in my brain I wonít soon forget. Donít want to, really.
I had just finished pounding out another column and thought Iíd relax my mind and body by grabbing a little tube time. I entered the den and playing there in living color was the HGTV show called ďMy First Place,Ē which features Jill Cordes. Since Jill is a pretty doggone good-looking woman, I thought Iíd watch what she had to say, even if my carpentry skills are what youíd correctly call nonexistent.
But this was no ordinary show. This 30 minutes was to feature a room makeover being done for a young widow and her two kids. Jackie Syverson is a widow because her husband, Army Major Paul Syverson III, died in Balad, Iraq, on June 16, 2004.
No doubt Iím tough, and athletic, and strong. Iím in the newspaper business after all.
Nonetheless, I confess before all mankind that I watched no more than five minutes of that show. With tears filling my eyes, I could take no more.
Why am I so upset? I wondered. Why have I turned into a wimp?
Then it suddenly dawned on me. Iím not crying for Major Paul. Heís Home now, a job well done, and saluting the Great General In The Sky.
No, sir, I thought, Iím weeping for Jackie and her children, Paul IV, 10, and Amy, 3. In this life, theyíll never see their husband and daddy again.
Thatís why the tears popped out of my eyes like the rain outside.
I wanted to phone the Syversons on the wireless. I wanted to tell them my heart breaks for them. I wanted to tell them Iím crying for them. I wanted to tell them thank you. I just wanted to reach out ó to them and others who have lost loved ones.
Because they invited us into their home, via TV, at that precise moment the Syversons represented all of our fallen heroes. They represented those from our area and across the nation who gave their lives so the rest of us can live ó even be stupid, if we want ó and go about our business.
Saddened, I retreated to the Bat Cave, my Real Newsman Office. I wanted to know more about Paul. As bad as I am on the Computer Box, I managed to learn he was from Lake Zurich, Ill., and was 32 when he died in battle.
It helped ó at least a little ó to know he was home when daughter Amy was born. He died seven weeks later.
He was two weeks shy of returning home.
I also thought about a stupid political statement made not long ago. A senator whose name I refuse to mention in a column about heroes, told a group of students to study hard or theyíd end up in Iraq.
Dumb soldiers, right, senator?
Paul and thousands of others died so this clown can freely make such inane statements. That senator should be made to mop the Syversonsí floors. And the floors of all other fallen warriors.
After a tearful Memorial Day, thatís what I think.
Jim Finley is retired managing editor of The Baytown Sun.
| DATE POSTED: JUNE 18, 2004
PRESS RELEASE: Special Forces officer killed in Iraq
U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, June 18, 2004) ó An Army Special Forces officer was killed in Iraq June 16 during a rocket attack in Balad, Iraq.
Maj. Paul R. Syverson III, 32, a Special Forces operations officer assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Campbell, Ky., was fatally wounded when a rocket exploded near a group of Soldiers during an attack on Logistical Support Area Anaconda by suspected insurgents.
Syverson, a native of Arlington Heights, Ill., entered service in 1993 after graduating from the Virginia Military Institute. He served with the 3rd Battalion, 41st Field Artillery, Fort Stewart, Ga., before attending the Special Forces Qualification Course in 1998 and later serving with the 5th SFG.
Soldiers from 5th SFG have been serving in Iraq since Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March 2003.
Syversonís awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Badge and Special Forces Tab.
Syverson is survived by his wife, Jackie, a son, Paul and a daughter, Amy Elizabeth.