Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In Loving Memory

This has been a hard week for both Freeland & I. On Sunday we got news that his Uncle Joy passed away after a 3 year battle with cancer. Then on Monday my mom called to let me know one of our family friends, Peter Burks, had passed away also. Death is hard no matter how prepared or unprepared you are. Monday night we just sat and talked through everything & realized this year alone we have had to deal with this more than we could have ever expected. I don't think it ever gets easy no matter how many times I have had to deal with it. I heard someone talk about once that we have it all backwards. We celebrate births and mourn deaths. When really, we should be celebrating death because its a celebration of the persons life & that they are united with God now. Even though I know that to be true, its not always easy.

Joy James was someone Freeland has always looked up to. His funeral was yesterday and it was one of the most special moments I have been a part of. I was so thankful to be there and witness what an amazing life he lived. It was a true celebration! Joy is someone who left a true legacy with his name. He was 1 of 11 children. Him and his wife of 59 years, Betty, had 9 children. In all he has 67 direct family members (kids, grand kids, and great grand kids)! 87 family members total, which he prayed for by name daily.. every single one. There were stories after stories during the ceremony of how Joy had impacted everyone's life around him. He was the perfect example of what it is to love the Lord, your wife, and your family. Freeland and I were both incredibly encouraged just being there. Joy James, 80, died in his home surrounded by his family on Saturday November 17th as they sang hymns and worshiped together. I can only imagine what a sweet moment it was.

2nd Lt. Peter Burks, died November 13th in Baghdad, Iraq when the vehicle he was commanding was hit by roadside bomb. He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

Peter was one of my brothers best friends growing up. His family was like a second family Jason. And Peter was like a brother to him. They were always together every weekend. I have so many wonderful memories from them growing up.. and I will always remember Pete as someone who was refreshing to be around, someone who was truly faithful & intentional, and someone who was loving. He was always that way towards my brother and others around him. Peter and his entire family were truly a blessing to my brother.

The last time my brother was with Pete was last April when he helped him propose to his fiance, Missy. Pete had planned a scavenger hunt through the Arboretum and my brother was her last stop before she finally 'found' Pete. My brother said he remembers her running into his arms as they hugged and he got on his knee in full uniform in front of the fountain and proposed.

Lt. Burks was engaged to Missy Haddad of McKinney. He is survived by his father and his mother, Jackie Merck of McKinney; three sisters, Alison Burks of Celina, Sarah Burks of Dallas and Georgia Burks of Celina; a brother, Zac Burks of Celina, a grandmother, Irene Merck of Fayetteville, Ga.; and a grandfather, Haskell Burks of Fayetteville. Ga.

This is from David Smith's website. He wrote about the memorial service for Peter. Its very sweet.

"Earlier this week I attended a memorial service for 2nd Lieutenant Peter Burks, a member of the regiment killed last week when a roadside bomb hit his Stryker vehicle. He was 26 and left behind a fiancee. It would be a mistake to think that, because soldiers face death every day, they feel grief and loss any less acutely than other people. In a large white room, rows of uniformed soldiers waited for the service to begin with sorrow etched on their young faces, the silence punctuated only by sniffs of choked emotion.

At the front of the room was the symbolic helmet balanced on the end of an upright rifle, and a framed picture of Lt Burks under the words "In memoriam". Everyone stood as the Star Spangled Banner was played through loudspeakers. Lt Burks's squadron commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Antonio Aguto, had to pause, his voice breaking as he paid tribute. "We can take comfort from the fact he did not die in vain," he said. "He died a soldier's death on the streets he swore to protect."

Chaplain Bryan Smith said Lt Burks had been a strong Christian. "Even though I feel his absence, I know where he is: heaven ... it took God six days to create the earth; he has been working on heaven for 2,000 years."
There was a moment of silence, when all heads bowed, then a sergeant, Kevin Muhlenbeck, shouted the name of a regiment member as if on the parade ground. "Sir!" came back the reply. He shouted another name. "Sir!" came the reply. "Burks!" No reply. "Peter Haskell Burks!" No reply. A voice outside gave an order to fire, and three times gunfire cracked in the night air.

More than 3,850 US troops have died during the Iraq war. From afar that can look like a statistic. Up close, it looks like a room full of sadness and a search for consolation."

Please keep all these families in your prayers. Be Thankful this weekend and remember the Burks & the James family as they grieve the loss of their loved ones.


  1. hey brooke,
    thanks for posting this. it is so sad that peter is gone. please tell jason that i am so sorry he lost such a treasured friend.

  2. I am SPC Martinez and I juat want to say that I was proud to serve under 2LT Burks, He was Truly a Good man. I am also from Dallas Tx. And I was Glad to have had a fellow Dallas Texan in the Platoon.
    We Will Always Remeber him And his Family, they will always be in our Prayers