In 2000, a teacher at his high school asked him and others in his class to write a statement of his life values and dreams. The paper he wrote was read at his funeral, and has seen wide distribution in the military and the Department of Defense. It prompted President Bush to send a handwritten note to Sergeant Carlson's parents.
In reading Mike's Credo, as it has come to be known, I was struck by the thought that he accomplished his goal and made a real difference in the lives of the people of Iraq. Not everyone is cut out to be a soldier, by any stretch of the imagination; I certainly am not. I've served the good of humanity in my own way - I spent 17 years as a volunteer EMT/paramedic - but, somehow, it just doesn't feel like it matches up to the level Mike reached.
The American people don't often seem to appreciate just the caliber of men and women attracted to military service. By and large, they're some of the finest people our country produces. They may not go in thinking they may die in our service, but they all reach that understanding before very long - and serve in that knowledge. We owe them our gratitude, especially on this Memorial Day weekend.