Editor's note: The following story was submitted to www.legiontown.org . Stories like this – and others about family legacies, honor guards, honors and achievements – will be shared on our new web page  dedicated to honor and remembrance.
I've wanted to say thank you for some time now. In my Marine Corps travels, I've buried veterans, retirees and Marines killed in action. All totaled, there were over 300 Marines. I never once got to say thank you.
In my nearly 26 years of service to our nation I never went in harm's way, a subject that bothers me to this day. Not by choice, but by design. During my last three years of service I was assigned as a casualty officer, a duty I would not wish on anyone.
This was stressful and probably the most difficult of duties and it was certainly the most necessary. The families of our fallen need that person to rely on when the times are hard and uncertain. I've had to tell some wonderful families the worst news imaginable, this affects me to this day.
To the Marines that were in my charge, thank you. You did what you were trained to do, watched each other's backs and brought everyone home. I was so grateful to not have to knock on your doors and it took a huge weight off my shoulders when you returned home. A special thank you to your families and friends who shouldered the burden of uncertainty and supported you through a difficult time away.
Thank you to the veterans and retirees who came before me. Without you we would not be. Your sacrifices to ensure our rights, freedoms and way of life have not and will not go unnoticed. These United States are because of you and those like you who stood the watch. You fought when you were needed and protected us from those that would do us harm. To your family and friends thank you for standing behind our warriors. The strength in them comes from the strength in you.
Thank you to our fallen, your families, and friends. I know these times are not easy. I know the loss still hurts inside. I do know this, you do not grieve alone. This nation grieves with you. America grieves for the fallen and we remember them. Americans have erected monuments and memorials to ensure we never forget the fallen. On Memorial and Veterans Days we take time out to remember the fallen. While it is little consolation, take solace in knowing this nation grieves with you.
Finally, to those that escorted our fallen home, knocked on the door, and supported our families; THANK YOU!
You took a very stressful time and provided a little beacon of hope. You supported and comforted the family and friends of our fallen with no regard for self. You stepped into an uncertain situation and provided enough certainty to help a grieving family and friends get through a most difficult time in their lives.
Thank you all for your sacrifices, support, and steadfast devotion to our country. Our rights, freedoms, and way of life are preserved because of what you did, are doing, and will do. May the Lord keep you safe in your lives.
MSgt USMC (Ret)
ALR Chap 255