Today is Memorial Day.
Today is a day set apart to honor our brave men and women who have served our great nation. They have served and paid the greatest price of all – their life.
I remember the feeling when I got the call that my friend, teammate, and “adopted” brother 2nd LT. Paul Michael Felsberg died in Ar Ramadi on October 13th, 2004. I thought it was a joke. I hadn’t seen him in a few months and now they were telling me that I would never see him again. I had so many questions. One of the biggest questions I had was why? Why, did he want to go back into the Marines after coming out?
From the beginning
Fels and I met my sophomore year at Florida International University (FIU). He was always different. First he was older than all of us because he had gone into the Marines right out of high school. After serving in the Marines for 4 years he enrolled into FIU as a criminal justice major. He was my cross country and track teammate. We both loved to run the long distance, we both were very disciplined, and we both were very focused on what we wanted.
For him it was to become an officer in the Marines and serve his country. During college he was going through the officer training school for the Marines. Upon graduating FIU and officer training school Fels got word that one of the platoon leaders Iraq was killed in action (KIA). He immediately called his superiors and said he wanted to lead his men.
Fels informed us of his decision, packed, and was off to Iraq.
I know that many people would look at these acts as bravery. While I know he is brave I believe this was his calling. I am conflicted by that term. I think referring to it as bravery doesn’t do it justice. He was so much more but I guess it is a good starting point.
Remember I asked “why”?
He found his “why” in life. He found his purpose. He found that thing he wanted to do, that thing that was congruently him – to be a leader. Few find this and live it as Fels did. I have no doubt that this was not a decision he had to make but one that was made for him. It was made for him be his actions, by his desires, by his passion, by his commitment to his country and to those he loved. Fels was the greatest and grandest version of himself daily as a friend, as a teammate, and finally as a platoon leader which ended his life but ensured that others lived.
What can we learn from Fels?
When you are congruent with who you are, what you want, who you want to serve, and why that is important to you, you will find that life will be most fulfilling. Fels was an amazing friend, a great leader, a man of integrity, and man do I miss him. I take solace in knowing that he did what he loved. He died in the presence of his real self, serving his country.
Whether you knew Fels or not I want you to take his example and live life to the fullest. Live life doing what you love. Live it doing what you were meant to be doing on this earth. Do it to the best of your ability and smile.
Happy Memorial Day!
Sending our love to all the great men and women who have fought and lost their lives to serve our nation. Thank you to the true heroes that stand on the front line and risk everything so that we may have everything. Thank you for all the great parents that have raised such men and women of valor, dedication, and love. You are forever in our prayers and honored with each success we take.
*PS – RIP Fels, your legacy lives on not by how you gave your life for your country but how you lived your life and made everyone’s life better. You are missed. What I would give for you to meet my kids. Noche buena is still not the same without you (we definitely have lots more left overs, LOL). I love you man.