Memorial Day

Flag at Iwo Jima

I’m not doing anything special this Memorial Day.  In some ways, the fact that the day is ordinary is more compelling than taking part in a parade or attending a barbecue, since it reminds me of how good things are for me.  I have a lovely ordinary life:  beautiful location; delightful community (if I downplay my politics); comfortable home in a wonderful neighborhood; healthy, beautiful/handsome children; charming dogs; good friends; and a comfortable and healthy material existence.

I do not take any of this for granted.  I am grateful, of course, to my parents, for surviving their turbulent, war-torn youths and making the difficult trek to this country, where they worked hard and raised me to rise above their economically fragile existence.  I’m grateful to Mr. Bookworm, a smart, hardworking man, who’s brought  his energy, education, and skills to a good job that pays well.  I’m grateful to America generally for still (barely) being a nation where education and hard work (and, of course, white privilege) reward us so generously.

And finally, I am deeply, deeply grateful to those Americans who made the greatest sacrifice, losing their lives on the field of battle in Concord, at Gettysburg, in Belgium, at Iwo Jima, at Normandy, and in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  Without their serving and dying as the front line to defend America’s freedom, none of the people, places or things for which I am so grateful would have existed.  Today may be Memorial Day, but their sacrifices are included among the blessings I religiously count every day of my life.

American military cemetery Luxembourg

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  • sabawa

    How elegantly put, Book.  I must ashamedly admit that I didn’t really appreciate how wonderful this country is/was until I lived overseas.  I lived in Saudi Arabia and Oman for a number of years.  I traveled in Algeria, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, etc., etc……oh dear.  Millions and millions of people have scanty, rough lives without an opportunity to change things.   Thank you to our brave military…..that’s all I can say! 

  • 11B40


    Back in the summer of last ’68, I was doing my military service down in Texas, which, next to the Bronx, is the place I’d most like to be from. For several months, I was assigned to the base’s funeral detail. We would provide pallbearers and a rifle squad for those requesting military funerals in the local area. 

    Military-wise, it wasn’t bad duty. On the days when we weren’t scheduled for a funeral, we would spend several hours practicing our “drill & ceremonies” and a couple more squaring away our uniforms and equipment. On funeral days, we would head out as early as necessary on a 44-passenger bus, often in civilian clothes or else fatigues with our first-class uniforms and equipment in tow. Often we would change into our duty uniforms at the funeral home, once in the casket display room, or on the bus itself. 

    It being Texas and the Viet Nam war being in full swing, we often had several funerals a week to perform. There was a certain spectrum from the World War graduates through the Viet Nam casualties. The former might involve a local veterans’ group and an afterward BBQ or such. The latter were somewhat more emotionally raw as most of us were facing our own deployments in the near future. 

    Two funerals of the latter sort have stayed with me through the years. The first was of a young Private First Class who had been MIA for several months before his remains were recovered. I was on the pallbearer squad that day and when we went to lift the casket, it almost flew up in the air. There was so little of the young soldier left that we totally overestimated the weight we were lifting and almost looked decidedly unprofessional. 

    The other was that of a Negro Specialist 4th Class. I was in the rifle squad that day. In the rendering of military honors, there is a momentary pause between the end of the (21-gun) rifle salute and the beginning of the playing of “Taps”. It is a moment of profound silence in most cases. During that moment, the young soldier’s mother gave out a yowl from the depths of her grief that so startled me that I almost dropped the rifle out of my hands. That yowl echoes within me still. 

    I’ll readily admit that, as a result of my experiences, I became much imbued with a sense of duty and respect to and for our fallen. Hopefully, today, when our media do their reporting they will show some of the same and let “Taps” be played out in its entirety. It would be nice for a change. 

    • Bookworm

      Sitting in comfortable suburbia, I forget that it is not just the young who die in the wars, it’s the young who deal with death.  In the old days, society as a whole had such high mortality rates that everyone, came face to face with the death of a friend or loved one very early in life.  In America, that experience is reserved for people in the medical professions and the military.

      • Ymarsakar

        That’s not completely true. It’s more likely the older society had the resolve to face death instead of using entertainment to look away on frivolous distractions. People, when it came to killing animals, did it themselves. They didn’t farm it out to animal control, PETA, or some Leftist scientific experimenting freak of nature.
        Whether it was pets, wild animals, protecting the neighborhood, or an older sibling protecting a younger one from wild dogs, people believed it was their own personal power and pride to get it done using their own hands. Most people these days not only feel little to no guilt that their food is killed by someone else, but that they prefer it that way, to avoid the guilt (the sin). You know what’s worse than committing sins? Offloading the guilt unto some sacrificial goat.
        I look upon the current generations and they have not the resolve to face death. As a result, they don’t have the resolve to face life either, and prefer the bosom of the Obama tyranny. But even if Hussein was not in the picture, somebody else would replace it. Hussein is not the problem per say, merely the symptom of AIDS.
        Human emotions are infectious. Women can be synched together, but humans accomplish the same via song and emotional oration/story narration. If you live in California, your role models are the Eliot Rodger types. If your role models and social members are people with hardened resolve and high will, then their emotional control transfers to you a little bit. And it’s easier to rise to the occasion or find the will to live. As American society began to do less and less the things that directly impacted our survival, outsourcing it to specialists we never see or care about, we lost touch with that foundational strength. We can’t have farmer virtues if we remember doing zero farming or being around zero farmers. We cannot have working virtues when all the workers are considered too low class to be considered for marriage to the family. Even if an individual wanted it and achieved it, the society would wipe it out of existence by mere majority will. The crabs in the bucket pulls in anyone trying to climb out.
        If a soldier’s emotions and reason for fighting center around their comrades, then it is critically important that they carry on the memories and will of their dead comrades. Human beings feel guilt when they do not aid their comrades. Without a way to absolve that guilt, humans can shatter from the weight and the corrosive nature of negative emotion. In that sense, it gives people a reason to live, even if it is at the expense of the ones that have died. When deployments ended on an individual level for Vietnam veterans, they were ejected in civilian culture to face an enemy alone, the Leftist alliance, that spat on them and harassed them when they returned. Not only did they let their friends die in Vietnam, but the justification of serving one’s country and carrying on the will of the fallen, were all stepped on and destroyed by the Leftists that “welcomed” our soldiers back.
        It is easy for me to see certain things that the uneducated have not. For in studying psychological warfare and various other things, I have come to be intimately familiar with the tools evil use.

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