Letter: Why I love Casey Owens
Imagine how honored I felt when Lt. Col. Dick Merritt asked me to say a few words on behalf of Casey Owens at the 239th Marine birthday ceremony last week.
As terrified as I am of public speaking, I somehow mustered up the courage to share a few thoughts.
After the beautiful Veterans Day ceremony and Rick Carroll’s front-page article about the Marine Corps birthday in The Aspen Times, several people asked me why I didn’t get up and speak, and they were curious as to what I had said at the ceremony the day before.
Plain and simple, I chickened out.
First and foremost, let me give you a little history. Casey joined the Marine Corps shortly following 9/11 — he was very young and very dedicated. Being injured on his second tour on Sept. 20, 2004, squelched his dream of being a career Marine. Keep in mind also that his emotional development was arrested at the young age of 22.
Among other obstacles, Casey took it upon himself to overcome the roadblocks that faced him. However, Casey took every opportunity that came his way to make the best of the precarious situation he was dealt.
Growing up in Houston, never having snow as part of his childhood, is a perfect example of his relentless desire to show the world what he was capable of. Casey was afforded the chance to learn how to ski and was rewarded by being a part of Challenge Aspen. Anyone who had the luxury of skiing with him knows what I’m talking about!
Three and a half years ago, Casey posed the question, “Why do you love me so much?”
I replied, “Is that a rhetorical or ridiculous question?”
Shortly thereafter, I went to my baby-sitting job. After tucking the kids into bed, I thought about his question and asked myself why I love him so much. To me the answer was obvious, and it was imperative that I let him know.
So I took out my iPad and started to type.
I love you because: You make me feel safe / You always watch my back / You put up with me / You listen to my woes / You give me solid advice
I love you because: You confide in me / You are not afraid to cry in front of me
I love you because: You fought for our country and our freedom / You gave me an awareness of the reality of war
I love you because: You are honest / You are loyal / You are faithful / You are so very brave / You are courageous / You are compassionate
I love you because: You are good hang time / You insist I watch movies I never thought I would like / You watch chick flicks with me / You are so good at Wheel of Fortune / You turned me on to music I now appreciate
I love you because: You have the coolest dog
And speaking of the most amazing dog — I was honored to accompany Harold back to America’s VetDogs in New York, where Valerie is retraining him to be reassigned to another very fortunate veteran.
By the way, the relationship between Casey and Harold was the love affair of the century.
In conclusion, I sent Casey the email of why I loved him so much, and when I asked him if I answered his question, Casey said, “Yes.”
Carole Gunther Cottrell
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