Monday, May 27, 2019

In Remembrance

It will come as a shock to the 97% of Americans who never, ever served in its armed forces (but probably not so much to any readers of this blog) but today was not instituted to get you an excuse to BBQ, drink beer, or get great deals on linens and TVs.

It was originally "Decoration Day", the day to go and decorate the graves of the honored dead who fell in military service to this country. Don't thank me, or anyone else you meet who served, for our service today. Because we're not dead. So this isn't our day.

It's the day for people you probably never met, nor ever will, because they gave up all of their tomorrows, so you could enjoy your today. They lie in ranks, row upon row, on at least four continents, covering hundreds of acres of ground. They spoke nearly every language you can think of. They came in every color of the rainbow of humanity. Their average age is probably around 20 years old. Forever.

It's still okay to enjoy a steak or a hot dog, knock back a beer or two, and get a killer deal on a big screen TV today. For most values of People Who Have Died In Service, that's exactly the best thing you could do to remember them, if you could ask them.

Just remember those people who made it possible, and live a little more, for them.

If you are able, save them a place inside you,
And save one backward glance when you are leaving,
for the places they can no longer go.

Be not ashamed to say you loved them,
though you may, or may not have always.
Take what they have left, and what they have
taught you with their dying, and keep it as your own.

And in that time that when men decide, and feel safe,
to call the war insane, take one moment,
to embrace these gentle heroes you left behind.

- Maj. Michael Davis O'Donnell
KIA, Cambodia, 1970


Scruff said...

very good post, thank you for keeping it real.

ChuckInBama said...

Thank you to the brothers I never met.
You'll never be forgotten.

T-Rav said...

As a career civilian, I can only say a heartfelt "Thank You" to Aesop and all the others, living and dead, who have served their country.

EJ said...

God Bless our veterans, living and dead.

The Gray Man said...

I’ve made it to this point of the day without being thanked for my service, so that’s good. Haven’t had to remind anyone that I’m still alive.

June J said...

Remembering my brothers in the submarine service who are on eternal patrol:
USS Thresher (SSN-593) lost with all hands, 129 crewmen and shipyard personnel on April 10, 1963
USS Scorpion (SSN-589) lost with all hands, 99 crewmen on May 22, 1968

In World War II, the submarine force suffered the loss of 52 submarines and 3,506 submariners.

Roger said...

Properly done, with a bugle.
Brings tears to the eyes of this
vietnam vet.
God bless our troops.
God bless those that gave all.
God Damn the politicians that caused

Anonymous said...

Lincoln's letter Mrs Bixby are the words for understanding today.

Spin Drift

Anonymous said...

Observed the day with my SF brothers as I have done for the last several.
Boat Guy

Grog said...

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

Major John McCrae, 1915, Canadian Army
In Flanders fields.

Neil S. said...

My family has been decorating the family plots since it was called Decoration Day. Here in Virginia, there's an awful lot of people who do it right. We had to get in and out of our local National Cemetery before the giant memorial parade started.

Stealth Spaniel said...

Why did the day get changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day?

Aesop said...

It started in Southern states after the Civil War, began to be celebrated in the rest of the country in 1868, and ceremonies gradually became identical over the next century. The name was changed after WWII, and in 1971, it was one of four national holidays moved from their traditional dates to the nearest Monday to create a convenient set of three-day weekends, and the name change was made official at the federal level.

I date far enough back to remember it by the earlier name, and was celebrated as such with relatives decorating both Union and Confederate graves, as well as subsequent ones, in Missouri cemeteries with kin.