Memorial Weekend, 2013.

I’ve been pondering what great words of wisdom, what great and soaring concepts, what US 48-star Flagverbal imagery I could present to you for this weekend. It would, of course, be centered around remembering those in our Armed Forces who have given their all, that “last, full measure”. But I couldn’t find the right idea to wrap a post around. And then it hit me.

This weekend, and especially Memorial Day itself, is not about me. It’s about remembering, it’s about paying tribute to those who have gone before. And in that line, what better way than to share the stories of those brave men and women from days past?

So I’ll give you some ideas where to look. You can visit an old friend of mine, Padre Steve Dundas, a chaplain and outstanding historian, at http://padresteve.com/2013/05/25/remembering-why-we-keep-memorial-day/, and enjoy this and other posts he’s written, not just about Memorial Day, but also about the great battles and the people who fought in them. You can visit a more recent friend, GP Cox, at http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/, and follow the tales of his father and the company of heroes he fought with inย  the 11th Airborne Division in World War 2. Both of these gentlemen, Padre Steve and Mr. Cox, have many tales to tell, and are worth the visit.

But I’d ask one more thing of you. More and more, as time goes by, Memorial Day is

50-Star Flag, Half Mast for Memorial Day

50-Star Flag, Half Mast for Memorial Day

becoming more commercial, more festive. It’s a day (and a weekend) of vacation, of sales, of picnics and outings. And while those of our fighting folk who gave their lives, would welcome the fact that we are free to barbecue or travel or buy our brains out, the true meaning of this holiday is starting to slip from our grasp. As our much-feted (and deservedly so) veterans of the “Good Wars” like World War Two and Korea pass from this earth, and as our newest generation of veterans come home from wars they don’t like to talk about, we as a nation are forgetting “the reason for the season”, as the old saying goes.

So take a moment this weekend, and especially on Monday. Take a moment, and remember. For we here in the United States, and around the world, owe a great debt of gratitude to those veterans we have lost. We have, literally, been given the freedom in our lives by the sacrifice of the brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. We owe them so much – we can spare a few moments to remember them.

To conclude, there is a large cemetery for the Allied war dead on the slopes of Garrison Hill in Kohima, India. Upon the memorial of the 2nd British Division in this cemetery, there is carved an epitaph that sums up my feelings far better than my poor words can. It says:

“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, ‘For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”.

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41 Responses to Memorial Weekend, 2013.

  1. tom says:

    So I have one memorial Day Ceremony under the belt with the speaker a Major General in charge of Ft. Irwin in 29 Palms and standing to applause when the played “The Army goes Rolling Along” Another one on Monday. Tahks and Honors to all the Vets living and dead.

  2. El Guapo says:

    Very well said, John.
    As always, I’ll take a few minutes to thank those who gave the last full measure of devotion,and those who take up that mantle today.

    • Me too – gotta go find the 48-star flag I hang out for the couple of WW2 vets in the neighborhood, so I can put that up tomorrow, then the yard flags for Monday. I always hope the helos that fly overhead will do so and see them – it would just be TOO cool if a Chinook dropped into my backyard! ๐Ÿ˜€
      And seriously, thanks for the salute, and the compliments.

  3. 1jaded1 says:

    You said it well. They made the ultimate sacrifice, and we reap the benefits. The least we can do is remember that.

  4. fasab says:

    Spot on! Thanks for that.

  5. aFrankAngle says:

    A great reminder from someone who doesn’t need the holiday to remember.

  6. unfetteredbs says:

    You’re a good dude there John. Great reminders

  7. benzeknees says:

    I am the first proponent of remembering our fallen soldiers. I lost a lot of great uncles to the Second World War. My grandfather lost all but his one brother who came home from the war shell-shocked & was never able to function in society for the rest of his life. I will never forget looking at my poor Uncle Joe on holidays, shaking away as he tried to control his alcohol consumption on special occassions.

    • I’m sorry to hear your family paid such a high price. It’s my sincere hope that we do far better by our current crop of veterans and their medical care, than we have done in the past. Sadly, the massive SNAFUs in the VA don’t seem to promise much.

  8. twindaddy says:

    Well said. It seems all holidays are losing their meaning as they become more and more commercialized, but we should never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice foe the freedoms we enjoy today.

  9. Road Dave says:

    There are always those who forget. There are always those who remember. Choose to remember.

    • Very well said. By the by, I know Britain has started an Armed Forces Day like we have here in the States. Is Canada doing anything like that, or do y’all just stick by Remembrance Day?

  10. Reblogged this on Doggy's Style and commented:
    Because nobody would say it better than John.

  11. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Nice words, John (the links to the others were really good, also).

    • I’m glad you liked it. As I said, I was struggling for ideas, when a twinge of irritation at the “sales! barbecues! vacations!” drone ended up being inspiration. As to the links, “Pacific Paratrooper” gives a great first-person view – the main reason I got hooked, The Padre, well, if you can tolerate baseball, he’s got some gems in amongst his effusive praise of our national pastime! (Oh, he is SO gonna get me for that! ๐Ÿ˜€ )

  12. Padre Steve posted today about the tradition of the artificial poppy, and its’ link to the VFW and disabled American vets. http://padresteve.com/2013/05/27/the-buddy-poppy-symbol-of-memorial-day/
    I highly recommend you stop by, even if just for that post. And I thought I’d add this here – it came to me, as I left a comment for my dear friend.
    โ€œFor those who gave their very last,
    โ€œFear not your memory fading to past.
    โ€œYour sacrifice in my heart will stay,
    โ€œAnd will be honoured EVERY day.โ€

  13. dogloverofmax@gmail.com says:

    Words don’t do our gratitude to those past and present – what brave men, women and k9’s too!

    • Well, welcome, fellow war dog aficionado! You went and tipped my hand – I’m planning a couple posts coming up on both the uses of dogs in war, and on the societies out there that care for them once they return home. So welcome, thank you VERY much for commenting, and stay tuned!

  14. gpcox says:

    Thank you for honoring our veterans.

  15. More and more, as time goes by, Memorial Day is becoming more commercial, more festive. Itโ€™s a day (and a weekend) of vacation, of sales, of picnics and outings.

    I thought about this several times as I heard bands playing and laughter over BBQs. I wondered how many of the folks thought about the reason for the day, and those that were mostly focused on having an extra day off (not, of course, that an extra day off is not independent reason to celebrate). I wondered at it being deemed “the start of summer,” and “when you can wear white pants again,” even as I tried explaining to my little one the real reason for the day. I can’t guarantee how much he understood but I am glad to have laid the foundation.

    • Sounds like you did just fine. I’ve got no problems with it being a day of bands and laughter, I’m one of those nuts who thinks the memory of the dead should be a celebration of their life, not just tearful mourning over their passing. Go ahead and have that family outing, go to that sale, pull those white pants out (really? People still worry about that?), but take a moment BEFORE the levity and partying begins, and bear in mind that you CAN party and barbecue and whatever else because somebody else, someone who ever knew you, laid down their life for you. Even more so than Armed Forces Day or Veterans’ Day (Armistice Day for us old farts), Memorial Day is for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
      And now I will quit preaching to the choir. Thanks for stopping by!

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