Memorial Day

I posted this two years ago, and frankly, I don’t think I can really improve on it-XBradTC

Today is Memorial Day. Today is the day we remember all those who gave their lives in the service of this great nation.

Most of us have seen pictures or film of Arlington National Cemetery, or perhaps the beautiful National Cemetery of the Pacific, better known as The Puchbowl.

Of course, over the last 7 years, we’ve seen servicemembers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq come home to be laid to rest. The older folks among us remember the constant stream of casualties brought home from Vietnam.

Today, if you are killed in action, you will be escorted all the way home, from the battlefield to your final resting place. The Air Force will fly you from the theater of operations to Dover, Delaware. You may well be the only cargo on the entire aircraft. A servicemember will accompany you from Dover to your hometown, or to Arlington, or wherever it is that will be your grave.

But it was not always thus. In WWI and in WWII, thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen made the ultimate sacrifice far from our shores. Thousands upon thousands of American men died in the fields of Europe. They were usually buried very near where they fell, in crude, makeshift graves, with perhaps a single wooden slab as a marker. After the fighting had moved on, they were disinterred, and moved to more permanent cemeteries. After the war, the US government offered to disinter these heroes again, to bring them home to our native land. Many were brought home. But many families, for many reasons, chose to let them rest where they were. And so, throughout Europe, there are cemeteries.

The American Battle Monuments Commission maintains these tiny patches of American soil, paid for and consecrated with that most precious currency, the blood of patriots. If you find yourself traveling to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, or one of the other nations with an American cemetery, by all means, go visit. It is a moving experience.

And even if you aren’t in Europe today, please, enjoy the day off, enjoy the BBQ and cocktails with friends. Enjoy the sales at the store. By all means, do so.  But take just a moment, please, to remember those who answered their nations call, and gave the last full measure of devotion.

Many thanks to an anonymous reader of Neptunus Lex for the use of the photos.

I would like to add this- when our fallen troops come home, their “other family” the soldiers still fighting, feel a hole where they used to be. It is a small comfort to have a memorial service for them in their unit. I’ve been to a couple. A couple too many. But like everything else in the service, there’s a ceremony that is enshrined in tradition. The same template is used across the Army, and across the years. It gives soldiers a chance to say farewell to comrades in arms, before turning back to their duty. Time Magazine’s Viewpoint column has a post by Rajiv Srinivasan, a former Stryker platoon leader, about this ceremony. 

6 thoughts on “Memorial Day”

  1. Just reading the description of the memorial service brought back to me the feelings I had when attending those for members of my unit we lost. This was tempered however by seeing the links to stories about how “we are failing our female veterans”, and “why young vets are having trouble finding work”…F’ing Time Magazine.

    Keith, Jason, Chuck and Shane we think about y’all all the time. Garryowen! RIP Troopers.

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