Regular readers of The White Rhino Report are already familiar with the life - and death – of 1LT Robert “Sly” Seidel, United States Military Academy Class of 2004. Those who are new to this Blog should know about the short and inspiring time that Sly walked among us. I can think of no better way to spend this Memorial Day morning than to reflect on who Sly was and how he continues to inspire those of us who knew and loved him.
A few days ago, on the third anniversary of LT Seidel’s death, his closest friend, Captain Socrates Rosenfeld, also USMA ’04, wrote eloquently of his thoughts and feelings on the occasion of stepping foot on the Iraqi soil on the anniversary of his friends death on that same soil. With Captain Rosenfeld’s permission, I humbly share his words in memory and in honor of Sly:
“Just when I begin to think there might not exist a more powerful being driving things, a day like this comes along. Three years ago from this current day, I can remember being woken by heavy heartache and tears; a day that would change my life forever. A day I will never forget. Sly, my roommate, my best friend, and my brother in arms left me from this earth on that fateful day. Memories and stories are not the only thing he has left me. He has forced me to re-evaluate my life and take nothing for granted. He has made me value love and family and all that is good. He has proven to me that becoming a warrior is synonymous with becoming a man.
He has watched my back just as he had done for me and so many others in the past. Sly was a man of substance, a leader, and someone who believed in his cause. It inspires me everyday, for he came here to lead men into the darkest corners of evil to protect people like me.
So three years from that fateful day, three years from the heartache and the tears, three years from the day my life would change forever, I shall cross that very threshold into the depths of whatever awaits me. And though the future may be uncertain, and though the circumstances may have changed, I shall walk in the very footsteps that my friend created for others to follow. A warrior's path.
So there is not much I can give to the others who have been affected by Sly's passing. All I can offer is to serve honorably and fight like he fought; with courage and character. And just as my friend has watched my back for so long, I know he will guide me once again.
Today. A day I will never forget. And for many others to follow.”
I was moved and inspired by these heart-felt words from my friend, Socrates - a warrior-poet who today also walks the Warrior’s Path.
Sly was special – but not unique. His sacrifice echoes that of thousands who stood bravely when their name was called to serve. On this Memorial Day, please join me in saying a prayer of thanks for those who have walked that path, a prayer for safety for those who walk it today, and a prayer for comfort for the families of those who served and have served so bravely and so well. May we always have our ears tuned to hear the echo of those who said - with their voices and with their actions: "Here am I; send me."