Today is a day that we are supposed to memorialize our war dead. Our heroes and heroines who died in the line of duty while serving their country in defense of freedom. Instead, too many ignore the why of the day, to indulge in self-serving activities that have nothing to do with attempting to demonstrate their appreciation for the sacrifice of our war dead.
The veterans of foreign wars are all around us. We may never know who they are, we might note the hat that they wear to show that they served during a time of duress and war, or a jacket. There may be no outward appearance or sign of their prior service. We largely ignore them, giving lip service to their sacrifice by showing “appreciation” to our troops by enduring politicians self-serving speeches.
My father became a Marine at the close of WWII. He served on Okinawa in a Scout Recon Platoon, always referred to as “kid” by his platoon sergeant, never as Marine, because he was underage. In 1947, he was sent to China as part of the Allied Army of Occupation. While there, he spent 9 months as a prisoner of the Red Chinese. He and those captured with him, were beaten daily, suffered depravations, and told upon repatriation to forget it by the USMC, never happened. He was discharged and returned to Arizona, serving in the Army National Guard, until the Korean War, when he once again became a Marine for the duration. He moved his family to Alaska in 1954 upon his release from the USMC. He then again joined the Army National Guard, becoming Alaska’s first fiscal officer. My father did not go to Vietnam, but in 1968 was offered a commission as a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy, if he would take a two year tour to Camh Ranh Bay with the Seabees. He declined the offer.
My father’s experience was not really unique. He was of a generation of Americans who faced a terrible war that threatened the very existence of the United States. He continued to serve in one capacity or another with the military until his early 40s. Such service was a matter of course for his generation, and expected. Through my father, his association with aviation, his USMC and National Guard service, and his tenure as an Alaska Territorial and Alaska State Police Officer in the 1950s and early 60s, I was privy to a world of men and women who were of that generation who served in WWII and Korea, and through Civil Air Patrol, those serving in the Republic of Viet Nam.
When Iraq came around, my youngest son, after serving a five year tour in the USMC, had joined the U.S. Army Reserve and was called up to duty as a combat engineer NCO.
While working on a USMC firing range renovation in 2008 on Oahu, I had the sincere privilege to meet young Marines who had been wounded in action, most by IEDs. They had been sent to the unit responsible for the firing range awaiting discharge for their injuries. We were humbled and sobered to be in the presence of those who had done the job and had been severely injured.
Soldiers fight for their buddies. It is all about the guy next to them. Not about country, not about the color of skin, not about where one came from, not about religion, not about anything but doing one’s part, and not letting your buddies down.
The guys in WWII did not serve to see the U.S. become less. They served to end a threat. They did terrible things. They firebombed cities. They shelled cities. They killed soldiers and civilians. They fought a total war. They won. Since, we have put our troops in harm’s way, but our leaders have prevented them from winning.
Today, our troops are under the influence of those whose world view is now very much like the enemy of the 50s-80s. The former Soviet Union and communism.
We have a President who is a product of communists and hard core socialists. People who do not believe that the U.S. is a good place or that its society is unique in the world with our Constitution and our rule of law. People who do not value life, our culture, the preservation of language, our institutions, the supremacy of our Constitution, or the traditional family as being necessary to the preservation of our country and way of life. People who live in the past believing that the U.S. is a place rife with discrimination based upon color and ethnicity and unfairness. People who believe that they have the right to take from those that work and give to those who do not. That the Constitution is nothing but an outdated piece of paper in need of revision to reflect their progressive (anytime progressive is used, read communist) world view. What’s yours is theirs. Abortion, though a tool of eugenics and intended to be used as such against the African-American population, has become a “right” for women who put killing the unborn below protecting a whale. This is not the United States that my father and millions of Americans before and since fought to defend or who sacrificed their lives to protect.
Some of our young American who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places have given five years away from home and family. Some, much more.
There are Gold Star families in Palmer, Wasilla, and Eagle River.
When you see a uniform of our armed services, think of how much time you have given in service to your fellow citizens away from your family. And, remember, what they do is dangerous in of itself with respect to training and daily operations without being shot at.
Be thankful that there are such heroes and heroines willing to do the job of our military. Tell your kids that these men and women are there to protect them and mommy and daddy. Tell your children that those grave stones in our national cemeteries mark the final resting place of someone’s daddy, son, brother, sister, mother, or wife.
May God bless these men and women who serve and those who have served this Great Nation. They stood the line and deserve our respect.
Memorial Day should be a day of respect and quiet reflection.