Haven't been here in a long while again... I'll fix that. Memorial Day 2014 seemed to be a bit different than those past. I still "did my thing" on Face book and Tumblr. Can't explain why but this "holiday" - poor choice to describe the day - holiday brings thoughts of fun and excitement and joy to my mind - and this day is not that kind of celebration, at least for me. This "memorial" day seemed to reach a bit deeper for some reason.
First it really pisses me off that I can stand out in my front yard and count the number of American flags displayed on one hand - hell on one finger. How ignorant and selfish are these people that are my neighbors? Do they not realize that what we have and what we enjoy as Americans has been protected by the sacrifice of over a million lives since the Civil War? Do they not care to recognize those that have given the ultimate gift to their country, their families, their friends and their brothers and sisters?
Next I had to pick up a few things at the store earlier today. Only one of dozens of businesses that I drove past had an American flag displayed - a Vietnamese restaurant. Not Safeway, not Costco, not Home Depot, not Walgreens, not Wal-Mart, not Conoco, not MacDonald’s or the local banks - not even the post office ... and the list goes on. All fine "upstanding" American corporations that somehow forgot what has kept this country safe and whole and free so that they can reap their profits while "serving the needs and wants" of the people in this community. Its crap and what's even more disconcerting is that they were all open for business - except the post office and the banks. Certainly I could have gotten by without the few items I purchased - except maybe the Jameson--LOL. Enuf said...
Standing out there today at Ft Logan National Cemetery in the warm spring sunshine amongst 10's of thousands of white washed tablets, each marked with a name and a flag, was as emotional an experience as it has been before. Each time I survey the acres of stones so evenly placed, standing in formation as did each of the veterans whose resting place they mark, I marvel at the courage and honor and bravery and sacrifice they made. Certainly not all died in battle, but they pledged that same oath that I and millions of others have pledged - "I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." And beyond that was the unspoken pledge to those they served alongside of.
Many stood in harm’s way and performed acts of heroism that are not recorded anywhere or rewarded with ribbons or medals, instead they have been kept close to the hearts and minds of those involved. How many were satisfied with the reward of a pat on the back or helmet and a sincere "thanks" from their buddies? How many stepped up when others hesitated, how many endured the bitter cold or oppressive heat, the lack of rations or ammunition, how many took their aircraft or artillery or armored vehicles to their limits and beyond - all in the name of freedom and liberty and honor and friendship and love? How many? Thousands of stories lay buried there and I know of all to few.
Today and in the last few days I spread across my Face book page and Tumblr blog dozens of pictures and quotes trying to raise the awareness of as many as possible. Some share in my feelings - most are my fellow vets, my buddies, my brothers. They know. I only hope that by sharing what I have that a few others have gained some small amount of caring, of recognition, of respect for what Memorial Day is really about.
To this day and hopefully forever - whenever the Star Bangled Banner is played I will be able to stand straight and true and salute my country and those that have kept it free. That tears will well up in my eyes at the sound of Taps, the pipes playing Amazing Grace or the images of another brother or sister being laid to rest. Just a few quotes to finish with…
"In the heat of battle it ceases to be an idea for which we fight... or a flag. Rather... we fight for the man on our left and we fight for the man on our right... and when armies have scattered and when the empires fall away... all that remains is the memory
of those precious moments... we spent side by side." Paul Bennett
"Leave no man be behind - Neither in the heaviest of firefights nor the wasteland of their own mind, Fighting demons that lurk in dark corners and follow, relentless, biting at heels and unguarded flanks, fraying the edges of sanity to ribbons with needle sharp teeth and vicious whispers.
A feast for doubt and despair that weakens even the strongest, for one cannot stand vigilant forever when war is left behind, but the battlefield remains in the heart and mind, forever indelible." Rhi Etzweiler
“When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” – LT Rorke quoting Tecumseh, Act of Valor (2012)
Hmmmm time for sleep - may it come and be as gentle as the spring breeze out the front window...