Friday, April 27, 2012

Rolling Thunder NJ - 21 Apr 2012

John's father, Robert, wrote and spoke these words at the Rolling Thunder Candlelight Vigil.  John's mother, Kate, served as editor:

APRIL 21, 2012

Memories are what each of us keep in mind for our future actions and thoughts.  Our memory keeps us from repeating unfavorable actions and directs us toward favorable actions.

Tonight we call upon those memories to honor the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan.  All families suffer losses of loved ones.  Some of us present tonight have suffered the loss of a soldier killed in action.  We honor the loss of our soldier by bringing our memory of the soldier into focus and remembering the characteristics and traits that soldier personified.  We are called upon both to remember and continue to uphold the traditions each soldier uniquely presented.  Our actions tonight and in the future will be a reflection of our lost soldier.

This vigil allows all of us to reflect on soldiers killed or wounded in action.  We are presented with the opportunity to recall each soldier and the opportunities that cannot be taken because of our loss.  We cannot create what may have been, but we can allow ourselves to visualize what we hoped could have happened.  The dreamer in each of us can focus on the best we wished could have happened and try our best to live out that dream.

We cannot change the past, but we can influence the future.  Ours is a daunting task but it is our hope for the future.  Please let the good thoughts carry us forward and remember our fallen warriors with dignity and grace.

God bless all of you, our county and the warriors that have protected us since the beginning of our country.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dedication of Quinlan Conference Room

John's father, Robert, spoke these words at the Dedication of the Quinlan Conference Room in Fort Campbell, KY on 20 May 2010:

"Being remembered is a significant part of anyone's life. To be remembered and memorialized for what you did is important, but being remembered for who you were is also very significant. Existence is the most critical part of life because of your ability to influence others. This influence may be carried forward across many lifetimes.

John was a significant influence on the lives of others. Kate and I along with his sister Sue were overwhelmed at his memorial in KY, burial in Arlington, memorial Mass in NJ, and by subsequent letters and comments of John's fellow soldiers, friends, and family of how he played a significant role in their life. We knew about John's relationships with some family members, but his active participation in the lives of fellow Army
and Marine soldiers, their families, and friends was amazing to us.

Those of you who knew John will always have a story to tell as a participant or observed during John's life. We, his family, want you to continue to remember and tell those stories. This will continue his legacy as a husband, father, son, sibling, uncle, fellow soldier, and friend. We love to hear those stories for it reinforces our memories of John's influence in his world.

During his life, John and Julie gave us the gift of three beautiful grandchildren - Keely, Maddie, and Erin. Each in their own way carrying forth in this world many of their father's enduring characteristics and strengths. They will be a living tribute to their father.

This past year we were blessed by the birth of a grandson. Sue and Greg named him JAQ (John Andrew Quinlan Ripke) in remembrance of her brother she so loved.

We, his family, thank the 160th SOAR (A) for this honor to John. Your continual remembrance by this unit and the military at large will be a source of comfort to us. Sacrifice is a part of life and to sacrifice your life for the principles of this country will always be significant. Please remember and honor John in your life and ask the question to yourself, "What would John have done in your situation?".

In honor of John and the fallen of the 160th, Kate and I would like to present to the 2nd Battalion a Gold Star Flag with the words "Honor and Remember" as a remembrance to all the soldiers who have fallen in battle. We hope this will be a fitting tribute as a reminder to the sacrifices made by soldiers for this country.

May God bless John, his family and friends, his fellow soldiers, and this great country."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two Years today

John died two years ago today; I can't believe it's been that long already. I went to John's grave site this morning (after dropping the kids at school). Every other time I've been to Arlington, there have been many people around - especially in Section 60. Today when I visited, it was mid-day and mid-week on a cold and wet February day, and there was no one else about. There was, however, plenty of evidence that people had visited recently. There were flowers and notes and flags lightly moving in the winter wind. After a little while, the precip changed from snow to sleet and freezing rain. I went back to the car and sat for a bit, and felt about as sad and alone as I'd had since we all heard the news two years ago.

I took some pictures and videos, and uploaded them to share. The album is unlisted, which means the link can be viewed by anyone reading this post, but the photos themselves aren't searchable to the public.

Monday, September 22, 2008

We Are All Grieving For Our Soldier

(The following words were spoken by John’s father to the VFW Post 2179 “Gold Star Families” Luncheon in Port Monmouth, NJ on September 21, 2008)

How we grieve is an extremely complex and personal matter. We live on in spite of the grieving and the internal pressures we experience. One of the reasons we live on is to insure others will know and remember about the soldier we are grieving.

Your soldier will never be forgotten.

We, the survivors, are left with the problem of comparing our soldier’s contribution to the success and continuation of our country. This is extremely difficult for us because the “war” has become personal. It’s not just the soldiers killed and wounded, but the toll it has taken on ourselves, our extended family and friends.

We did not wish to become “Gold Star Families”. It was thrust upon us as circumstance allowed dire things to happen. We reluctantly accept this “honor” with the courage to continue on in spite of the problems we have continuously faced and the unknown problems will face in the future.

We all want our children and grandchildren to have successful lives. We are at a loss to understand when a soldier dies that it may not be recognized as a success. Yet when wars are “successfully” completed, the country recognizes each soldier’s ultimate contribution.

Grieving never stops but it does take different forms with the passing of time. Sometimes we may understand why this happened and other times we are total perplexed as to “why us”. Please understand I am not trying to having you understand what happened. This may never happen. But I am trying to have you find a place for you to live with this tragic event.

May God bless your soldier, you, your family and friends, and the United States of America.

Who Is A Hero?

(The following words were spoken by John's father at Seabrook Village in Tinton Falls, NJ on September 12, 2008 at a memorial service for 9/11 victims and those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan)

Our son has been described to us as a hero. He died for our country in a foreign war on terror and was a professional warrior.

Last year, at a tree and plaque dedication ceremony at Bradley Beach School, I asked the students what was a hero. The answers varied, but all pointed toward someone who did something great. Today, I offer my definition as someone who accomplishes a task without being asked. Someone who saw a requirement, figured out what can be done, and went ahead and accomplished the task. John did that and more.

We all can be heroes to others. We need to take the time, observed what is happening around us, list our options, select a course of action, and, of course, accomplish the task. This is a means for us to grow, mature, and have wisdom on your side. I am sure you have identified people with these characteristics. You want to develop these characteristics for yourself in order to be a hero.

Thank you for inviting me to speak today. I hope all of you will become a hero to your family, friends, and co-workers.

God bless you John, and God bless America.