Memorial Day

ZachS. z5 Littleton, COMay 26, 2014

Memorial Day. A time when folks (usually) get the day off of work and often times get together with family for barbeques and picnics. It is the unofficial start of the summer season when we cast away the gloom of winter, pools open and we can go outside in t-shirts and flip flops.

We often don't think of the reason for the holiday.

Memorial Day, previously known as Decoration Day, was established shortly after the American Civil War. A Veterans Organization began the day as time for Americans to decorate the graves of Soldiers lost during that terrible conflict. After the end of the First World War, Memorial day was expanded to include those who have died in all American Wars.

They fell in New Jersey after crossing the Delaware River and while defending the Nations capitol as the British burned it to the ground. They slaughtered each other in farmers fields from Pennsylvania to Texas and were laid low in Montana, Cuba, and the Philippines. They were shelled and gassed in putrid, rotting trenches in France and Belgium and then went back again to Normandy, Anzio, Iwo Jima, and Midway. In the Frigid mountains of Korea and the steaming jungles of Vietnam. Serbia, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. From Lexington and Concord To Kabul and Baghdad, over a million Americans have given their lives in service of this country.

It is because of them we have this day to spend with our families. It is for them that we should all pause, as we sit down to eat our burgers and hotdogs, or relax in the beautiful spring sun, or even just use an extra day to get things done around the house, pause and remember the enormous sacrifice that our fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Air and Coast Guardsmen have made. Remember that today there are Mothers and Fathers, Wives and Husbands, Sons and Daughters who's loved ones returned home to the sound of taps.

For some here, it may be that you are intimately familiar with welcoming your loved ones home from war, draped with a flag. For others, it may have been that we said goodbye as that precious cargo was loaded up and sent home that way.

So, in ending, I would like to say thank you. To everyone who has had to hang a gold star on the window, to our Service Members past and present, and especially to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Enjoy your day, Rocky Mountain Gardening Friends, its looking like we may get to dry out here in Denver today, so, above all else, everyone enjoy your day, and have a very happy Memorial Day.

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

When I was little--still in the 40's, after WW II--it was called Remembrance Day and Poppy Day. I remember vets out on the street corners selling homemade poppies, and everyone wore one on their lapel! I always thought Remembrance Day was the "best" name!

Very shortly after the start of the Iraq war we transported the body or one of the first young men to die on our flite. The (very young) Honor Guard was in the cabin, he was a personal friend of the fallen soldier, and when I found out why he was there I told the cockpit--almost all of whom are active and retired military--and they came back to talk to him. The pilots told me they were going to go down on the ramp as the body was removed from the plane when we landed in Denver, and, even though flight attendants weren't allowed on the ramp, I went down with them and stood with the Honor Guard and the two pilots as the as the body was slowly moved from the plane to a transport vehicle. It was one of the most difficult and moving things I've ever done.

To all our military men and women, in active service or retired, thank you for your service,
Skybird

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 12:44PM
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david52_gw

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.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 1:51PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

I wear my "buddy poppy" that the VFW gives out every year. I like Remembrance Day too.

Skybird, that is quite a story and you are right, it is hard and moving. Not long, maybe 3 months after we had boots on the ground, I came up for R&R. I was a 19 year old Army private just about 5 months out of basic training and on my first deployment. I was seated on a C-130 headed out of Balad Air Base, Iraq to Kuwait to catch my connecting flight back to the states. As we sat in the jump seats they announced that we would be traveling with HR. I had no clue what hell HR was, but then we were called to attention as two boxes blanketed with American Flags and topped with purple hearts were carried onto the plane. That was the most solemn flight I had had the pleasure of taking, and I feel honored to have shared the trip with those two.

It doesn't matter that you know you are going to war. You know you could shot, or blown up, rocketed, or mortared at any time. But seeing that was when it really hot home. It was the first time I ever saw with my own eyes the terrible reality of it. It was terrifying, and humbling. That was several years ago and since then I have seen many more of those coffins and sat in memorial services and every time I choke back tears as the 1SG calls last roll and we file through to render our last salute. I can sit through the funerals of family members without shedding a tear, but there is something about military memorial services that I just can't handle.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 4:33PM
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margaretmontana(4-5MT)

Thank you for the beautiful tributes. My father - World War 1,corpsman,5 brothers - 2 who were corpsmen,3 brothers in law and husband were military in Korea & VietNam. I was an Omsbudsman for my husbands squadron during VietNam and was a liaison between military and the families and the heart rendering 2 officers going up to the door to tell the families. It makes me cry now to think of all those who have served well giving their all. My husband put in 21 years as well as 1 brother. They both spent 6 years off the coast of VietNam on carriers, fast frigates providing support to the troops one as a jet and helicopter mechanic and one as a corpsman. When they came back they were spit upon and had rocks thrown at them.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 11:39PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Philosophical comment!

The 60s and 70s were the "protest years," but most people who were “protesting” never figured out the difference between protesting the war in Viet Nam and protesting the soldiers who were sent to fight that war. What was done to those men, who were drafted and had no choice about going, when they returned home from Viet Nam was, and always will be, an absolute travesty in my mind. It was so very wrong.

Fast forward to 2001, and 9-11. I was based in San Fran, was commuting, and had been released on 9-10 in time to get home to Denver. Sleep deprived like I always was when I got home, I went to bed, and woke up in the morning to an incomprehensible sight on TV. I was still trying to figure out if I was watching some warped version of Candid Camera when I watched, live, the United plane fly into the second tower. After 36 hours of watching the reruns of the United plane flying into the second tower I couldn’t deal with it anymore. My vacation started on 9-11 in 2001, I had reservations to fly back east to visit Gettysburg, among other things, and it finally soaked in that that was not going to happen, so I called to cancel all my hotel and car reservations. I threw everything I could think of in the car and headed out to the hills--Montrose, for no good reason at all, but it was out of Denver and away from the “reruns.” On the way out of town I stopped to pick up some red, white, and blue ribbon to wear. But what I’m really getting to is that as I was heading west I almost immediately found people in their cars and trucks flying the American flag out of their windows, and mounted on their vehicles wherever they could. Of all the horrendous ways for it to happen, it seemed to me that there was finally patriotism in this country again, for the first time since the protests of the Viet Nam era. I cried most of the way to Montrose--every time I saw another flag! I lost twelve flying partners that day, and no words can ever excuse or forgive what was done to the returning Viet Nam soldiers, but out of the ashes I saw patriotism restored--finally. I’m olde, and even with all the “problems” it has, I am, and always will be, grateful to have been born in this most amazing country.

On a lighter note, when I was still flying, during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, whenever we had uniformed service men/women we would upgrade them to first class anytime we had empty seats available. This was not company sanctioned, just something we flight attendants did, so it was always done at the very last minute, after the door was closed. On one flight we upgraded four young guys quickly as soon as the door was closed, and one of them asked me if his buddy was going to be able to join him. I asked him “what buddy,” and he pointed out that there was another soldier in coach. We had missed him on the manifest, so I went back to “get him!” The upgrading had to be done quickly because as soon as the door is closed you “push” and need to get ready to do the “demo,” so I found him and told him I was gonna move him to a "different" seat, and to come with me! He had apparently never had this happen to him, and he looked at me like I was nuts, tried to ask what I meant, and just stayed sitting where he was! I didn’t have time to try to explain to him what I was doing (it was clear the other pax around him had figured out what was happening) so I said to him, “don’t ask any questions, just follow orders, get your stuff and come with me!” He said, “yes, ma’am,” and did what I told him to do! I got him up front and had to leave immediately, but I’m sure his “buddy” explained what had just “happened” to him! It was the only time I gave “direct orders” to someone, and it was the funnest “upgrading” I ever did--all the other pax watching what was going on were smiling! (I have an Iraqi coin that was given to me by a (very) young soldier, and it’s one of my Favorite Things!)

Margaret, thank you to your husband and brother, and any other Viet Nam vets you know. A thank you that is long, long overdue!

Skybird

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 2:16AM
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margaretmontana(4-5MT)

In the last several years we have seen a great turnaround also. When he wears his veterans ball cap a lot of people of all ages stop and tell him thank you for your service. We have a military memorial here that has names of hundreds of people who served in the military from Montana and his name is on that wall.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 12:32AM
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