Four weeks ago, Capt. Richard Gordon Cliff became a Dad. He gave his name to his son.
Three weeks ago, Capt. Richard Gordon Cliff, a Green Beret, left the US for his third tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Monday, Capt. Richard Gordon Cliff was killed. He was 29.
Yesterday I received an email from a relative of Richie's. She had purchased one of my bottlecap necklaces at Knockabout and wrote to ask me if I could design a necklace for Richie's widow. She said she didn't want red white and blue patriotism, but something that would honor Richie in a more subtle way, and keep his memory close to her heart.
What an honor.
Above is the necklace I designed. My goal was to honor Richie in every detail possible. Below you can see the results. The background is a neutral color (by request). The three stars represent Richie, his wife, and their son. The phrase "Sine Pari" means "Without Equal" and is the motto of the US Special Forces, of which the Green Berets are a part. The motto for the Green Berets is "De Oppresso Liber" - "To Free the Oppressed". I sealed those words onto the back of a heart charm. Most of the background beads are green - for the Green Berets, of course. The extra heart charm is for love, of course, and the hole that will always be in his widow Stacy's heart.
I didn't know Richie, or his family. My heart breaks for them. I know they will spend the next days, weeks, and months wondering how life can go on so normally for all the people around them - all living in oblivion to the tragedy they have suffered. If you follow the link at the top of this post, you can read a little bit about Richie.
So, thank you Richie, for giving your life, the ultimate sacrifice, for my freedom. Thank you Stacy, for letting him go. I am so sorry for your loss. I know it is unbelievably great. And thank you to all our servicemen and women who honor duty to country above all else. You are heroes. I look forward to celebrating the day that you can all return home.
Honor, Remembrance, Peace ...