This I Believe

Kimberly - Cedar Knolls, New Jersey
Entered on May 12, 2007

I believe there are quiet moments shared between people that define who we are and how people will remember us.

My childhood friend, Chris, will long be remembered as a motivated Marine who made the ultimate sacrifice serving his country during his tour of duty in Iraq. However, there are many memories of “quiet moments” I spent with Chris that stay with me, all of which occurred long before that horrible day a suicide bomber drove up to his checkpoint. As I stood at a memorial ceremony held in his honor, I wondered what “quiet moments” Chris shared with the people around me. I worried many of these moments would be lost because the recollection of such a moment can only be accurately recounted by the two people who experienced it first-hand.

Here’s my half of the recollection of a quiet moment spent with Chris: Sophomore Year Home Economics Class–the day’s assignment to the group of Chris, two other friends, and myself was to bake a cake. I mistakenly added two cups of salt when the recipe called for two cups of sugar. We didn’t realize this until it was time to eat our creation. Three of us instinctually spit out the cake the second it hit our tongues. One of my friends yelled, the other one squealed, and both bolted to go tell the teacher. But there sat Chris, chowing down the salt-laden cake. He smirked, with a twinkle in his eye and said to me, “What? A little sodium can’t hurt you! This cake is great!” and continued to eat his entire piece with a smile on his face.

I had known Chris for many years before that day, but that was the moment when I became certain that Chris was different from the group of teenagers who gathered around our table to make fun of my error. Chris was willing to put everyone else ahead of himself. Simply put, Chris wanted to make the people around him happy. And in that moment, I decided that Chris was something special–selfless, caring, and understanding–the kind of person you are lucky to come across in your lifetime.

This year on Memorial Day, I want to honor Chris and the many others who have given their lives for our freedom. I want to pay tribute to the Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors for their defining acts of heroism, but also memorialize them as friends and family members for the quiet moments they gave us. For those quiet moments define who we are and what we strive to be, just as Chris set an example for me of what it means to be an extraordinary human being.