Thanks for what you do for us. My late father was one of seven brothers, all of whom enlisted in WWII. I have a treasured photo of him with three brothers in 1943 in Boston, 3 of them in uniform. It was a much different world then for the military. The country was united then. Simpler times, but rougher, too. Just thinking of of hiking 10 miles with some of that gear makes a lot of body parts hurt.
I remember him telling me that he had nightmares for more than two years after returning. He saw the results of an ammo dump explosion in France, and had a hard time getting over it. They didn’t know about PTSD back then, it was “tough it out” and that’s what they did.
But it did mold him in ways that I can’t explain. As your time overseas will mold you….people you work with will become your lifetime friends. And people like me, who never saw foreign battle, won’t understand. I admit that. The family members from back then say that he came back changed. For the better? I saw the better parts. He was proud of every minute he spent in the great war, even the tough ones.
A treasured gift in my home is my father’s WWII Eisenhower jacket, complete with the WWII Victory Patch sewn on it. It’s a tiny thing, in darn near perfect condition. It’s hard to understand now, but please, think about saving a few things like that for your children and grandchildren….even if you don’t have any yet. It gives life to the stories, and your great sacrifice. And tomorrow’s kids need to know that good people endured great hardship to make their lives better. To today’s kids, WWII is something in the history books and little more. Please help the next generation understand that your sacrifice was worth it, and not the stuff they see on their Playstation. We honor those who fought before us to bring their stories to life.
How Can We Best Honor Their Memory on Memorial Day
I believe we veterans are a living tribute and have a solemn duty to bestow honor upon the memory of our fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters who gave the full measure of devotion in defense of our country and in defense of each other.
As I get older, the depths of my feelings and emotions mature while I seemingly become less wise. Everything, and not just physically, was somehow easier when I was younger. I no longer have all the answers I enjoyed with my youthful wisdom.
I am not sure how best to honor those who died: for me, for my brothers-in-arms, for my family, for my future and for my freedoms.
One of the happiest days of my life was when I married my true love at West Point on Memorial Day, May 30th, 1970. So, when someone wishes me a “Happy Memorial Day.” I can beam with the happiest thoughts and reflections of that wonderful day. However, having departed for Vietnam the day after I returned from my honeymoon, the happy thoughts are as quickly departed and replaced with the evocative memories of my fallen heroes.
As I do every Memorial Day, I will return from marching with my local VFW in its annual Memorial Day Parade filled with high school marching bands, boys & girls scouts/soccer teams and hundreds of volunteer firemen. For all our parades, the veterans are always invited to lead the parade, even in front of the politicians. The small crowds lining the streets always clap the loudest for the veterans. I know they will soon dissipate to enjoy cook-outs with family & friends in this beautiful weather. I, myself, am looking forward to my own family being with us for a bar-b-que.
So, to the question of how best can we honor Their Memory on Memorial Day.
There is a phrase in the bible: “Who will honor him who does not honor himself?” As living tributes, I believe we must act honorably to honor the memories of our fallen. I believe we honor the memory when we accept honor. Allow the citizens to honor us in any way they choose, whether it be clapping when we pass in review, placing us on a dais, bestowing upon us proclamations or certificates or simply being the recipients of a “Thank You!” I think it is our solemn duty to demand honor. We are the voices of the deceased; we are the reminders of the deceased; we are the living tributes of the deceased. It is our duty to rekindle patriotic fervor in the beating hearts of our country-folk, to remind them by our honorable presence of the supreme sacrifices of our fallen heroes. I truly believe we are the living medals earned by our fallen heroes.
I believe our country deserves to be happy and free, because that happiness and freedom was bought with the blood of our fallen heroes. I think our fallen heroes would appreciate that our country is happy and free and would gladly accept that as a wonderful tribute to their sacrifice. So, I personally am not disturbed to note that our people wish each other a Happy Memorial Day and celebrate the onset of summer.
I am also thankful. I am thankful that I once was young and soared with eagles. In my youth I did not adequately appreciate the full measure of the men with whom I served. Never again would I be in the company of men who would routinely offer up their own lives to spare mine; never again would I share unqualified trust and know that I was equally trusted. The respect, admiration, honor and love for these men with whom I served grows with each passing Memorial Day. I am thankful and prideful for all who served.
On Memorial Day I also salute the Gold Star Families and promise to honor them with my own living tribute.
God bless all veterans!
Gary D. (I had the profound pleasure, honor and tremendous fortune of serving as Platoon Leader to the heroic men of 2nd Platoon, Charlie Rangers from Aug’70 thru May’71. I completed my tour as a Captain with its Headquarters element, the 17th Aviation Group, Tuy Hoa.)
Photos From West Point
May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door. (Irish Blessing)