Friday, May 27, 2011


Thought for the day:  One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.

Well, are you ready for the big three-day weekend, America's unofficial start of summer? Ready for your first big cook-out of the season? Bought all your food, your booze, and have the swimming pool ready to go? Got those white shoes dusted off and back at the front of your closet? Your shopping list ready to take advantage of all those big sales?

Got everything done on your to-do list? Forgetting anything? Anything at all?

Some people consider Memorial Day to be our most important national holiday, but to others, it's nothing but  another three-day weekend filled with sales and cook-outs.

John Moon, the former commander-in-chief of the VFW, said

 Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance. America's collective consciousness demands that all citizens recall and be aware of the deaths of their fellow countrymen during wartime. Far too often, the nation as a whole takes for granted the freedoms Americans enjoy. Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of others few of us actually knew. That's why they are all collectively remembered for one special day.

Memorial Day.

 A memorial is something that keeps remembrance alive. Let's all of us, in the midst of our cooking out, and in the midst of our shopping and having a grand old time this weekend, remember all of those men and women who made the supreme sacrifice.

Those are the four words engraved on the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C.  And here is a poem with that same title, "Freedom is Not Free,"  written in 1988 by Air Force ROTC Cadet Major Kelly Strong:

                                              I watched the flag pass by one day.
                                              It fluttered in the breeze.
                                             A young Marine saluted it,
                                             And then he stood at ease.

                                             I looked at him in uniform
                                             So young, so tall, so proud,
                                             With hair cut square and eyes alert,
                                             He'd stand out in any crowd.

                                              I thought how many men like him
                                             Had fallen through the years.
                                             How many died on foreign soil?
                                             How many mothers' tears?

                                             How many pilots' planes shot down?
                                             How many died at sea?
                                             How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
                                             No, freedom is not free.

                                             I heard the sound of "taps" one night,
                                            When everything was still.
                                             I listened to the bugler play
                                            And felt a sudden chill.

                                             I wondered just how many times
                                             That "taps" had meant "Amen,"
                                             When a flag had draped a coffin
                                             Of a brother or a friend.

                                             I thought of all the children,
                                            Of the mothers and the wives,
                                            Of fathers, sons and husbands
                                            With interrupted lives.

                                            I thought about a graveyard
                                           At the bottom of the sea,
                                           Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
                                           No, freedom is not free.

Vietnam memorial
As an amateur radio operator, I've also had the privilege of serving as a member of  Army MARS. (Military Affiliate Radio Service) For Memorial Day one year, the Chief shared a story with us about a Captain who was stuck in traffic at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It was pouring rain, and this captain was growing increasingly more agitated because he was running late, and knew he'd never make it to PT on time. Just as traffic was finally starting to move, the vehicle in front of him stopped, and a private jumped out into the pouring rain and ran into the Memorial Grove beside them.

What a bonehead! the captain thought.

Horns were honking, and the captain, as well as everyone else behind him, were fuming. Still, the private kept going, with his BDUs soaked and plastered to his skin. He ran up to one of the memorial plaques, picked up the small American flag that had fallen to the ground, and set it back up again. Then he came to attention and saluted, before running back to his car and driving off.

The captain later said, "That soldier, whose name I'll never know, taught me more about duty, honor, and respect than a hundred books or a thousand lectures. That simple salute - that simple act of honoring his fallen brother and his flag - encapsulated all the Army values in one gesture for me. It said I will never forget. I will keep the faith. I will keep the mission. I am an American soldier."

We may not be soldiers, but the least we can do is remember them, a very small effort for those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. The picture above is of the familiar Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., but most states also have memorials in honor of our Vietnam vets. The one in Springfield, Illinois, includes the following words:  To those who died, honor and eternal rest; to those still in bondage, remembrance and hope; to those who returned, gratitude and peace.

One last comment about Memorial Day. It also happens to be my brother's birthday. He's a retired Marine, who served multiple tours of duty in Vietnam. So to him, I wish a very happy birthday, as well as gratitude and peace.

Happy Birthday, big brother.  Semper fi

Enjoy your three-day weekend, all. Until next time, please take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. Semper fi. Thank for this lovely tribute. It brought tears to my eyes. We must not forget the fallen, the wounded, the loss. Thanks for making me remember.

  2. Our day is in November but I always pause a moment on yours to remember. Our men were brothers in combat.

  3. What a great post to begin the weekend that is normally associated with BBQ's, boating and just relaxing. I like this a lot. Thank you for the reminder.

  4. Thanks, Susan, and yes, that anecdote made me teary, too. A much needed reminder for all of us.

  5. Both Pooldad and I are children of military men. You best believe we remember. :)

    This post is lovingly written. Thank you Susan and thank you and happy birthday to your brother.


  6. Thanks for the sentiments Sis and the birthday package. And just in case anybody was wondering, no that's not a picture of me wearing an earring (isn't that the gay ear?).

  7. What a great reminder. Thanks for the lovely words. I will definitely spend some of my weekend remembering.

  8. Well written tribute. As the son of a World War II vet, this is particularly poignant and moving for me.

  9. Hi, All. Thank you so much for your comments. And Ron? I knew that picture would get a rise out of you! Y'all take care, and I hope you have a super weekend.

  10. Hi, Susan,
    This is the third time I have tried to do a comment on this posting, so here I go again....I really enjoyed the post (enough to try three times to comment) and if it doesn't do it this time, I will just wait till a later date.
    Every time I see a flag, or a parade with the flag being borne, I tear up and my heart speeds up double time...When I return to this country after having been in another one, the sight of "Old Glory" flying on the flagpole absolutely is wonderful. Thank you for the tribute to our fighting men and women. My four brothers served in the army (the two oldest ones in WWII), my daughter, Teresa, and her husband were Air Force, and their son, BJ is presently serving in the Air Force.
    Thanks again. Ruby

  11. What a wonderful post! It is so important for us to remember all the men and women who have served our country. It was so nice of you to help out with your radio show too. Wish your brother a very happy birthday, and please thank him for me. Julie

  12. Happy birthday to your brother.
    Thank you for an insightful post.
    Our 'Memorial day' is ANZAC day on 25 April every year.

  13. Having come from a military family, Memorial Day is a very important holiday for us. Thank you for this post.

  14. Hi, Ruby. Thank you so much for hanging in there so you could post your comment. I appreciate them, and appreciate your sentiments, as well. Thank you for signing on as a follower, too. Welcome aboard!

    Hi, Julie. Thank you, ma'am.

    Hi, Al. It's good that you keep a specific date for your Memorial Day. Ours used to be on May 30 every year, until the government opted to change it to the last Monday of the month, just so it could translate into a three-day weekend. Not that I have anything against long weekends, but doing that watered down resulted in the unintentional dilution of the original meaning of the day.

    Hi, Florida. You're very welcome. And a special thank you to your military family.