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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend 2017

(For politics, please scroll down)

With all our busy-ness, let us not forget the meaning of Memorial Day.  Instead, with solemnity and humility, let us remember and honor the more than 1.8 million servicemen and servicewomen who have died in the service of our nation since 1775.


  1. Replies
    1. FJ,
      Good video.

      I couldn't help but think of two of my family members who served in WW2.

      Two of my cousins, both under the age of 21, were in uniform at Normandy on D-Day. One cousin was in the Army, the other in the Navy. Both came home physically whole.

      And never would they discuss their time in the service.

      My mother said something inside them died that day.

      Neither of them was ever truly happy again.

      Each of my cousins died young: one at age 39 and the other at age 44.

    2. Thomas Dylan MacDonald, III said

      So their sacrifices were made in vain. How sad! Others I've known, personally, came back feeling they could never be afraid of anything ever again after facing the horror of combat in that "war to end all wars," which was what World War Two was supposed to be.

      They went on to live comfortable, successful-if-undistinguished lives and each lived out a normal life span. They were capable of enjoying the simple pleasures such as backyard barbecues, PTA meetings, vacatins at the seashore with their families, and the joy found in gardening and home improvement.

      One thng about them that stands out in my memory was the nearly complete absence of self-righteous hyper-judgmentalism so often found in those who stayed home, never risked their lives, and lived self-indulgently on a purely theoretical level.

      Do you know if your cousins had strong Christian faith, or not? The two world wars did much to damage and destroy faith in God for too many, but others who survived the conflict felt their faith affirmed and strengthened by the experience.

      I'm so sorry your family was partialy destroyed in the fight to keep us free from tyranny and enslavement.

    3. Anonymous,
      My cousins' mother was a strong Believer, and she reared her sons in the church. But once my cousins returned from WW2, they rarely again attended church. In fact, I'm not sure that even their weddings were held in a church.

      I never heard either of my cousins refer to anything related to faith.

      My guess is that my cousins lost their faith during the war.

      To be clear, both of my cousins were financially successful: one an attorney for the State Department and the other a businessman who owned a couple of successful restaurants.

      And both of my cousins married (once each, no divorces) and had children.

      But something that happened to my cousins during the war robbed them of healthy psyche.

    4. The video came from a post I made a few years back for me uncle Hank, who died on the beaches of Iwo Jima.

    5. ______ DULCE ET DECORUM EST _______
      Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
      Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
      Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
      And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
      Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
      But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
      Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
      Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

      Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! –– An ecstasy of fumbling
      Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
      But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
      And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. ––
      Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
      As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

      In all my dreams before my helpless sight
      He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

      If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
      Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
      And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
      His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
      If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
      Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
      Bitter as the cud
      Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
      My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
      To children ardent for some desperate glory,
      The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
      Pro patria mori.

      ~ Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

    6. FT,
      About the words Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori:

      The poem [by Horace] from which the line comes exhorts Roman citizens to develop martial prowess such that of the enemies of Rome, in particular the Parthians, will be too terrified to resist them.

      Something along the lines of carrying a big stick [Teddy Roosevelt].

      Then, there's No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making some other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

      The reality, of course, is that wars cost lives. For that reason, wars should never be entered lightly. Every military man I know is a strong advocate of diplomacy -- especially if that military man has seen combat himself.

      As mentioned in the body of the blog post, more than 1.8 million servicemen and servicewomen have died in the service of our nation since 1775. Memorial Day is about honoring our military fallen.

    7. Diplomacy is le merde du boeuf. I have come to regard decisive, PRE-EMPTIVE action as the wisest, kindest, most efficient way to avoid major conflict and widespread destruction.

      Just think how much better things would have been if "someone" had had the presence of mind, –– and the courage ––, to have sent a commando squad into Germany and assassinated Hitler before he marched into Poland and the Sudetenland!

      Think how much safer and saner the world would have been if only Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and the rest of those filthy Bolsheviks had been assassinated BEFORE they were able to mount the Communist Revolution! Czar Nicolas and his family were brutally murdered, because the Czar did not have what it would have taken to eradicate his enemies BEFORE they got enough power to harm the Russian Royal Family.

      I USED to believe in complete Freedim of Expression until I ran into characters like Canardo the Quacking Commie. Now, I am much in favor of the SUPPRESSION of PERNICIOUS, INSIDIOUS IDEAS expressed by seditious FOOLS.

      I was never raised to "hate" anyone, and I didn't, but that was before I saw the naked aggression of treasonous rabble rousers, and heard the insidious seductive sophistry poured into the dear little ears of innocent, ignorant children by Communist bastards ready, willng,able and EAGER to destroy ur country and everythng fr which it once stood.

      CUT OFF the HEAD of a SNAKE, and he DIES. Snipe away at his tail, and he's likely to sink his fangs into you and thus inject a dose of lethal poison into you that would quickly end your life.

    8. FT,
      Diplomacy is le merde du boeuf.

      Since WW2.

      I support freedom of expression here, but I do filter comments to some extent.

  2. Wishing you and Mr. AOW as good weekend. We are so blessed.

  3. Its important to remember that Monday is more than a day off of work, cookouts and 50% off sales. It's a day of remembrance and honor. Most here certainly get that....but the public writ large.....not so much.

    1. CI,
      I wonder if schools any longer spend much time on the meaning of Memorial Day.

    2. I wish I could say....we homeschool, and with the teacher [Mrs. CI] and Principle [myself], combat vets......you can bet that we spend quote a bit of time on the honoring of our fallen warriors.

      I would bet, that it's given a passing glance by government schools.

    3. CI,
      I've noticed that homeschooled students tend to know more about these matters. But I must say that, as the years have passed, they know less and less -- unless their dads are active duty or retired military.

      The public school students whom I tutor know practically nothing!

  4. How can we ever make it up to our dead heroes and their mourning families? Not with barbecues and mattress sales, that's for sure.
    God bless them all......let's all take a moment to pray for them, to talk about them with friends and family, particularly our kids. Remind them that freedom is so not free.
    I grieve and yet I doubt they'd want us to...not for long, at least. God bless their families. And protect those in the field, dear God.

  5. I'm looking forward to President Trump's speech now.

    Thanks for posting AOW.

    Perfect Z. I'd say we can help make it up to them by supporting them and supporting only a government that supports and respects them.

  6. Thank You for posting this Dear AOW

  7. Thank you for finding President Reagan's stirring, heartfelt words, and that beautiful choral selection so well performed.

    I posted Hail, Columbia in hinor of Memorial Day, and searched in vain for a GOOD choral rendition, but, Alas! could not find one. I posted it anyway in honor of this occasion, because the words by Joseph Hopkinson have always held great meaning for me –– especially this refrain.

    Firm, united let us be
    Rallying 'round our Liberty
    As a band of brothers joined
    Peace and Safety we shall find.

    Philip Pfeil's, music which only later became attached to Joseoh Hopinson's poem, was played at George Washington's inauguration. Hopkinson's words, written to fit Pfeil's music, came later.

    Hail Columbia was regarded unofficially as our Natiinal Anthem both at home and abroad throughout the nineteenth-century.

    How I wish we could once aga[n becime united as a people geh9nd the ideals and proud convictions on which we were founde! It seems the least we could do to honor the nearly-two-million men who DIED in the desperate, ongoing struggle to keep us free and independent.

    1. FT,
      Thank you for your kind words about this blog post.

      Hillsdale College is often thought of as only a political science college. But Hillsdale is much more than that -- and has an excellent music director (as evidenced by this video).

      I shall stop by your blog sometime over this long weekend. I love "Hail Columbia."

  8. AOW, Any soldier I've known has said that unless a person was 'there', it is a waste of time to try to explain it to them, they'd never understand. My Dad never said anything about WWII (Europe Infantry) other than 3 funny stories he had.

    1. Kid,
      At least you got to hear 3 funny stories. My cousins never told any stories. They did have night terrors, though.

  9. I think it's worse for those fighting in the ME. At least in WWII, your enemy wore a uniform, over in the ME, anyone at anytime could pull a gun and start shooting.

    1. PS, That has to be harder to deal with mentally.

    2. Kid - well stated. It is more difficult. Add to that, their immoral propensity to sacrifice children in their fight.

    3. Kid & CI,
      As I understand it, the Vietnam War also had some of those same problems -- perhaps not to the same extent as the Middle East front.

    4. I think it'd be fair to say that Vietnam was our first major exposure to asymmetric warfare.

  10. Honor those who have fallen in battle, as well as their families, by telling our government to stop getting into wars the government has no idea or inclination to win.

    We can start by getting the hell out of Afghanistan. Northrop Grumman is the only one winning that one.

    1. SF,
      Amen to that! Almost 16 long years of this "war on terrorism," a meaningless term if there ever was one.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. This is exactly the reason I choose to post ANTI-WAR poems on Memorial Day.

      Virtually EVERY American oldier who has died or been maimed, or driven mad since World War War Two ended has died IN VAIN –– a tragic waste of young life and human potential.








      ALL of these exercises in futlity have been a WASTE –– a waste that has profited NO INE other than The Oligarchs who make huge profits from the manufacture and deployment of War Materiel.

      It's taken me many years, but I see now that those rude, scruffy, unwashed, long-haired bastards shouting "Hell No We Won't Go." back in the SICK-sties had a good point, despite the vile style in which they expressed it.

      Our post-WWII military history has made a MOCKERY of the sacrifices made by the heroes of all our JUST and NECESSARY armed conflicts.

      It is LONG past time to abandon the

      Theirs not to reason why
      Theirs but to do an die

      mentality so long accepted as the DUTY of every yung man when called into battle.

    4. FT,
      This is exactly the reason I choose to post ANTI-WAR poems on Memorial Day.

      I disagree with posting anti-war poems on Memorial Day.

      Would we lecture the family who has lost a loved one about the dangers of the deceased's life style?

      Memorial Day is a day of commemoration of those who lay down their lives to save others. We can post anti-war poems all other days of the year.

    5. FT,
      I see now that those rude, scruffy, unwashed, long-haired bastards shouting "Hell No We Won't Go." back in the SICK-sties had a good point, despite the vile style in which they expressed it.

      As one who is married to a veteran who was drafted during the Vietnam War Era and whose best friend died in Vietnam, I can tell you that the words "Hell No We Won't Go" didn't go down very well.

      It was not until 2006 that Mr. AOW ever heard the words "Thank you for your service." As his wife, I, too, was denigrated for marrying "a pig." Example: ministers refused to marry a man in uniform, so Mr. AOW chose not to wear his dress blues for our wedding -- even though I very much wanted him to do so.

      Furthermore, my being married to a man in uniform (and, later, a veteran) even adversely affected my possibilities for employment.

      For a long time after Mr. AOW got out of the Army, he and I never mentioned that he had served.

      The anti-war sentiment was that strong until quite a long time after the fall of Saigon.

    6. PART ONE:

      I’m sorry you chose to take offense at my remarks by taking them PERSONALLY, AOW. SilverFiddle effectively said EXACTLY what I said, but I used plainer, less equivocal language –– and you appeared to AGREE with him.

      As always when it comes to blogging, I am concerned priarily with root causes and underlying principles much more than I am with personal feelings and personal anecdotes.

      I’m sure you will like the post I put up at 4:00 AM –– an essay on the significance of Memorial Day I’ve published before in several venues. I know you are already familiar with it, but I took considerable time locating fresh illustrations for it, then concluded with John McCrae’s, famous, highly evocative poem In Flanders Fields.

      While neither I nor my father ever served in the military, my Uncle Bob was the one who was tortured then died in a Japanese Prison Camp just befofre the war ended.  Uncle Tony saw action throughout the war.  Uncle Fred Mack, no relation but one of my father’s best friends from their youth, served and saw action during the Great War. He participated in D-Day.

      My cousin Eddie was wounded in the Pacific, and had to spend the rest of his life in pain walking with a permanently stiffened leg because of shrapnel in his knee the surgeons were unable to remove.

      My cousin John was present a Anzio.  And Primo Semprini, the gardener my father hired off the local garbage truck, whom we came to regard as a family friend, fought in the acific theater, was wlunded and taken prisoner by the Jappanese. His life as a POW was an unimaginable hell, but he came back GRATEFUL to be able to return to American soil.  


    7. PART TWO:

      Primo was poor, and none to bright, but he was very loving, very decent man who fathered eight children, and managed to raise them despite considerable adversity.  The Semprini’s lived at a very different standard from us, but as a little kid, I always loved to visit with them on their big disorderly house on the "wrong side of the tracks” and share their rough and tumble lifestyle.

      Also, I have counted among my friends a man who was stationed in Hawaii in 1941, and WITNESSED the Japs’ bombing of our fleet at Pearl Harbor, He died just a few years ago at the age of ninety,  Another friend, still alive at age 96, served in the Navy during the war, and saw a great deal of action in the Pacific.  At one point his ship was so badly damaged by enemy fire, the crew had to seek refuge on a neighboring American vessel in the convoy. The doctor who ushered me into the world in the spring of 1941 was killed in the Pacific when his ship, the Helena ,was sunk by a Japanese submarine. This man was not only my mother’s personal physician, he was a colleague of my Uncle John, and a beloved family friend.

      I also read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich when it first came out along with Erich Maria Remarque’s Arch of Triumph, Agnes Newton Keith’s Three Came Home, a memoir of her family’s experience as a Japanese POW in nrothern borneo, Etta Shiber’s Paris Underground, David Ross's biography of Edith Cavell, and other works of fiction and biography dealing with the effects of war on soldiers and civilians alike.

      So, please don’t try to tell me I do not understand ot appreciate the sacrifices both military personnel and civilians made on our behalf.

      What has concerned me for many years however, is the the way The Military Industrial Complex, which I now refer to as The Oligarchs,  has callously MISUSED, ABUSED and SACRIFICED the LIVES and the HEALTH of untold thousands of OUR young men fighting useless, pointless wars in a series of trumped up pretexts with NO INTENTION of winning, and apparently  NO ABILITIY to WIN.  This is clearly as wicked as it is insane and denouncng it for what it is, shows NO DISRESPECT to the hundreds of thousands of OUR MEN who were essentially deceived into serving in these absurd, utterly useless, wasteful, self-defeating conficts.

      Isn’t it long past time we stopped VICTIMIZING our OWN to enrich The Oligarchs?  And what BETTEER time could we choose to make this point than Memorial Day?  


    8. FT,
      I'm not offended exactly.

      I think that today is not the day for anti-war sentiments.

      In my view, such sentiments denigrate the service of those who are no longer with us on a day of commemoration -- for all the fallen in war, including the American War for Independence.

      I liken this appropriateness to how we are tactful on the day of a funeral.

      Memorial Day is a day of funeral.

      Tomorrow is time enough for anti-war sentiments, of which I have plenty of my own.

      Like my father before me, I believe that every war promoted by the Oligarchs has within that war the seeds of the next war.

      Also like my father before me, I don't believe that modern wars (WW1 and following) ever solve anything.

    9. Memorial Day is a day of funeral.

      Exactly. Especially for the countless legions of fallen, who had nobody by their side as they passed, nor anyone to mourn and bury them with grace.

    10. FT,
      SilverFiddle effectively said EXACTLY what I said, but I used plainer, less equivocal language –– and you appeared to AGREE with him.

      SF served on the field of battle. That's the difference.

    11. PS: The poets Wilfred Owen and John McCrae also served on the field of battle.

    12. I spoke plainly because though one can honor those who served while criticizing government stupidity, it's a tightrope.

      I was a support troop in Iraq and Afghanistan, doing communications work for those who actually went out and engaged in combat.

      The US Army should have won some kind of globally-recognized award for ingenuity, resilience and constant adaptation to ever-fluid situations.

      We had Captains acting as town mayors, Majors doing Ambassadorial work, Sergeants as town sheriffs.

      Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines did everything asked of them, and more, and they did it with bravery and ingenuity.

      We fought to give those people some space, a chance, to improve their lives.

      So, while on a macro-global-government level things got all bungled up, at the personal level, good and brave American men and women gave it all up for fellow human beings.

      So, while we all rightly throw bricks at government stupidity, we must never fail to honor those men and women who gave their all.

    13. SF,
      So, while on a macro-global-government level things got all bungled up, at the personal level, good and brave American men and women gave it all up for fellow human beings.

      So, while we all rightly throw bricks at government stupidity, we must never fail to honor those men and women who gave their all.

      Well said!

  11. ______ In Flanders Fields ______

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    ~ Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872-1915), Canadian physician,
    poet, author, artist, soldier

    1. The words of Thomas Jefferson:

      The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

      War becomes a necessity when in-good-faith diplomacy fails.

    2. MY POINT –– as if anyone could possibly have missed it, if they read me right –– is that serving the avarice and despotic Power Agenda of The Oligarchs is no more about "refreshing The Tree of Liberty" than The Communist Revolution was about promoting the best interests of the working class in Czarist Russia, or than Lincoln's War was about emancipating the Negroes, ot the War on Poverty was about alleviating the Plight of the Negro.

      How long are we going to advocate and attempt to glorify participation in what-clearly-has-been a tragic FARCE ever since we got invoved in "The Korean Conflict?"

      Aen't you sick and tired of being DUPED?

  12. A timely essay by John Kelly appeared in today's WaPo.

    Excerpt from "A Blind Veteran's View of Memorial Day" (emphases mine):

    “I’ve lost brothers on the battlefield, specifically my buddy Tyler Trahan,” Brad [Snyder, a blind veteran] said. The two went to explosive ordnance disposal school together. Tyler was 22 when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2009.

    “Dealing with a loss like that is very difficult,” Brad said. “He was a good friend of mine. I miss him every day. I wish he was here. But I have to live in honor of him. I have to live a life he’d be proud of. And I have to make the most of every moment, because it’s a moment he didn’t have.

    “That goes for the hundreds of thousands of service members who have offered their lives in the name of this country.”

    Memorial Day, Brad said, “is a day to have fun and barbecue and enjoy the time you have with your family and friends. But know that you’re enjoying that in honor of someone who gave up that opportunity, to give it to you.”

  13. What was the motive of those shouting "Hell No We Won't Go?"

    For many, it was probably they didn't want to interrupt their college education, didn't want to leave the pot and the girls behind.

    How many of them joined the Peace Corps? (a fine organization, imo. We should quadruple its funding).

    AOW's comments about her wedding and newlywed days caused me to recall that when I joined in the 80's, the US military still suffered a bad reputation.

    So many people, mostly my classmates, could not understand why I was joining the Air Force. The military was for losers who couldn't get a real job and who were too stupid for college.

    For a pop culture perspective, I tell people to watch the movies "Heartbreak Ridge" and "Tank," paying attention to how the civilians viewed the military.

    I'm not crying a river here, just piggybacking on what AOW said.

    Also, I took FT's words in the spirit of charity I believe he intended them. We've known him too long to believe he meant any disrespect toward anyone, but I do believe, like AOW, that today is not for contumely, but for remembrance and honoring the dead.

    1. SF,
      What was the motive of those shouting "Hell No We Won't Go?"

      For many, it was probably they didn't want to interrupt their college education, didn't want to leave the pot and the girls behind.

      How many of them joined the Peace Corps? (a fine organization, imo. We should quadruple its funding).

      Good point about the Hell No We Won't Go crowd!

      It is only quite recently that society as a whole hasn't sneered at those wearing the uniform of our country. I noticed a change after 9/11.

      Like you, I'm sure that FT didn't intend any disrespect toward anyone.

      I stand behind what I said: today is a day commemoration, of funeral. Afterwards, we can celebrate.

      And tomorrow we can post anti-war sentiments and decry the global military complex (the Oligarchs).

  14. God bless those who want to serve their country ...knowing they could give the ultimate gift.
    And I think so much of the FAMILIES who lose SO MUCH with the deaths of their loved one.

    1. Z,
      I note that Gold Star families are being honored on this Memorial Day Weekend. This honoring is right and proper.

  15. And may I add to be grateful for all of your rights, and your freedoms and just remember it should never be taken for granted, as we have seen, in just eight short years of the Liberal, Democratic, and the progressive socialists have been doing in the past eight years of their administration..
    And may God Bless our Troops and our Veterans, of the Past,and those who are serving in the Present, Our Fallen Heroes, Their Families, and Our President, and to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and their Families, Thank you,you will not ever be forgotten.
    And Thank You for your service

    1. All who enlist in our now-voluntary armed forces know in advance that they may make the ultimate sacrifice. These are America's heroes.


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