Memorial Day, Remember?

Posted on: May 24th, 2014 by Will Rodriguez 8 Comments

As we enjoy our long weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer and some really great sales opportunities I just wanted to remind everyone to take a moment and meditate on what the holiday is really about.

Memorial Day, is a specific United States federal holiday formerly known as Decoration Day. Unlike Veteran’s Day which celebrates all vets’ service, Memorial Day commemorates men and women who died while in military service to the United States.

Initially called Decoration Day to honor the over 600 thousand Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the American Civil War, it was extended after World War I to honor all Americans who have died while in uniform.  It was widely recognized at the state level but only became a federal holiday in 1967.

Unfortunately it was moved from its traditional 30 May observance to a Monday by federal law in 1971. Subsequently as the VFW stated on Memorial day 2002..

“Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

About 1.3 million Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation since Lexington & Concord.  I offer an inadequate thanks to all my brothers and sisters who have taken the oath, worn the uniform and paid the supreme price.

As part of my personal celebration of Memorial Day I make it a point to remember and recite the names of those I personally served with:

SSG Richard L. Alter
PFC Clifford W. Bath III
PFC James Draper Jr
PV2 Andrew J. Franklin III
SPC Samuel A. Hintz
PFC Michael A. Jankowski
PV2 Jeffrey L. Rivas
PFC Timothy S. Sayer
1st Sqd, 1st Plt B Co 2-502  Killed in an air to air collision with a TF 160 BlackHawk 1988

Specialist Peter L. Swano
HHC 3-5 Cav 3rd AD  Died shortly before our crossing into Iraq during Desert Storm

Captain Joseph G. Kime III
HHC 1st BDE 3rd Armored Div  Killed when his vehicle drove over a mine in Desert Storm

1LT Jeff Case
C Co. 3-5 Cav 3rd AD  Shot himself after returning from Desert Storm

You and the 1.2 million plus other Americans are NEVER forgotten.

Those that visit are characteristically much more appreciative than most of our servicemember’s sacrifice and recognize those that died made a personal sacrifice for us.   I encourage others to remember their comrades, friends, family or neighbors that have made the ultimate sacrifice below if they’d like to.  If one doesn’t know someone, a silent “thanks” sometime over your weekend is enough. 

Be Respectful, Candid and Pertinent. No Posers, No Trolls…
  • ArcticWarrior

    For me it is a somber day, its not about a bbq, a party or a day off. It is a time to remember and reflect in silence for those who did not come home, and for those that did and the burden just proved too much. All casualties of war. Rest in peace brothers, your memories drive on….

  • ArcticWarrior I felt that way for a long time.  I still do on some holidays or when I experience something that reminds me (e.g. Memorial/Veterans Day, The Star Spangled Banner, stories about downed helicopters, mines/EIDs, suicide etc.).
    A while ago I also realized that most of those I knew wouldn’t want me to be somber.  Most would want me to have a party and so I try to celebrate them rather than focus on their loss.
    Not judging, sometimes the pain is too new.  Just sharing on how I deal with the holiday.   

    Spielberg captured some of what I’m trying to ineloquently say…

  • Txazz

    It is a day to ponder and remember and remind others.  I like to send out emails built with graphics and other patriotic info relating to our fallen thru the ages.  Most recently, yesterday, we buried Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Barreras, a Ranger.  His brothers wept as they shared how he didn’t have to be out leading his men at his age and rank, but, he did, was wounded and they and his family are left to honor him.
    Barreras, 49, died May 13 at San Antonio Military Medical Center. He
    was wounded May 6 in Harat Province, Afghanistan when his unit was
    attacked with small arms fire, according to the Department of Defense.
    RIP:  CSM Martin R. Barerras, USA
    2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment
    3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division
    Died 13 May 2014 Of Wounds Sustained
    In Afghanistan 6 May 2014

  • YankeePapa

    …Many here might know that initially in the Civil War that the Union dead were pretty much buried where they fell… far too often in pathetically shallow graves.  At Gettysburg it was decided by various state authorities to have a proper national cemetery.   But the problem did not end there.
    …Too often the ebb and flow of battle was such that soldiers were left where they fell… not buried at all.  A passing squad of soldiers might pick up their weapons… nothing more.  If a dead Union or Confederate soldier lying in your back yard… pretty much your problem.
    …When stories came out about some people actually making money by grinding up bones of deceased soldiers left lying on battlefields, the public in the North vented a white hot rage… The storm reached Congress.  Congress appointed a senior officer and gave him all the people and funds that he required.  
    …The story has been documented elsewhere.  Essentially a relatively large % of the unburied soldiers identified… no dog tags like today… but the teams got countless letters from veterans describing where a comrade fell… (“…ten feet up the opposite bank just East of the railroad bridge…”)  
    …It took a couple of years, but the task was completed.  Union soldiers in individual graves (when possible) Confederate dead decently buried, but in communal graves.  
    …In the South, “widows groups” and other women’s organizations took the lead in locating and burying Confederate dead.  Yearly visits to the graveyards by the widows… and increasingly by others.  Various communities had their own days… Some in the South still do to this day… 
    …The American Civil War was America’s Iliad…

  • YankeePapa

    …It is after 10 PM on Memorial Day.  I am watching a PBS program in the American Experience series about the post Civil War burial project that I posted yesterday.  Saw it some years ago.  More than 300,000 Union dead buried or reburied… Final burials as late as 1871.  Southern women bringing home the remains of Southern soldiers who fell in the North.  The most famous group the Richmond Hollywood Society.
    …Southern bitterness about the war and its aftermath increased by not having their fallen included in the program.  It was short-sighted of the North not to follow Grant’s lead at Appomattox in being magnanimous towards a people that were now part of the Republic again.  Unfortunately, probably politically impossible.

    …Former Lt. Colonel Whitman headed the Union effort.  The Army was not keen on spending what would be equal to 75 million dollars these days…  In a letter to Congress, Whitman told them that the Federal government stood in “loco parentis” of the remains of the hundreds of thousands of remains of those whose families gave them to the conflict.  The response was timely and well funded.  The Republic had never taken such responsibility before… and would never go back to what had gone before.

    …Once the early 20th Century arrived, a day came when Northern members of Congress seriously wanted a piece of legislation of no interest to the South.  A rider was attached to the bill that no Southern politician would dare rebuff… It agreed to treat all surviving Confederate veterans the same as Union veterans… to include pensions.  The bill passed in a walk.

    …One side effect of this was that many of the Southern vets ( by that time my age and older) got pensions.  Many also got young brides who figured to get themselves set for life.  When the vets died, the wives listed for administrative purposes as “Widows of the Civil War…”  The last of these died in the late 1990s…  If child born to such union and mentally or physically impaired… would be listed as an “Orphan of the Civil War” for the rest of their lives.  The last “orphan” of the American Civil War has yet to die…
    …My mother was 13 in 1933 when the last “widow” of the War of 1812 died.  When will the last widows and orphans of the Vietnam War die?  The Gulf War?  Afghanistan and Iraq?
    …Shirt-tail relative of mine on my father’s side… Will Rogers, once said that we should not have any new wars until we finish paying for the last one…

  • Sh4d3

    I proudly remember your (American) losses and I want to remember also the brave italians who fought alongside you and made the ultime sacrifice not just for the flag their serving but for world’s peace!


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