John West served in the U.S. Army. So did his great-grandfather. So did his grandfather. And his father.
His son, Cpl. Christopher John Lee West, also served in the Army — until he was killed in Iraq a year ago this month.
John West and other family members, friends and service members gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to mark the anniversary. C.J. is buried in Section 60 among fellow soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here is a portion of West's closing at that memorial service:
C.J. is the last of the Wests.
There are no more males, especially first-born males, to serve in this country. He's the last of the line. And he did it right for the rest of us.
And that I thank him for.
And I love him very dearly. And I have a very great hole in my heart that I try to fill every day, but I guess it's supposed to be left there for a purpose of some sort.
There's some gentlemen that are sitting here, one of them was on the other side of C.J. when the incident occurred. And I know you all have a helluva memory ahead of you that you'll live with the rest of your lives. Just know that you didn't do anything wrong. He was with the right people, trust me. And I appreciate that. And I'm glad you watched over him.
We all miss him. We always will.
So, in closing, I love my son. He's gone. We got to move on. Especially you, gentlemen, because you have to go through this again.
And I want to make sure that you all are clear: Your sixes are covered.
Thank you very much."
("Your sixes are covered" is military-speak for "I've got your back.")