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Memorial Day

Posted: May 15, 2012 9:31 a.m.
Updated: May 16, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Monday May 28th, 2012 is Memorial Day. A day we Americans set aside to remember those valiant Americans that laid their lives on the line to protect the wonderful freedoms we now enjoy in this great Republic.

If you have a world map or even better, a world globe, I invite you to pick it up and stab a point anywhere on it with one finger. Chances are you put that finger very close to some place an American was killed, injured or perhaps buried while defending Americas’ freedom.

Many of us will enjoy varied leisure activities such as barbecues, eating out, playing or watching sports with some but not much thought of what this day means. We may even meet a veteran or active duty service Member and tell them “Thank you for your service.” If we do this, the service member will appreciate it and we’ll feel good inside also, but I think we need to reflect a little more on this day.

The “Great Generation” is quickly dying off in America. We need to make a special effort to have a conversation with these wonderful people before they’re gone, not for their benefit but for our own!

When I say the “Great Generation” I don’t just mean the military personnel that fought the world wars.

Those civilians that weathered the depression, bought war bonds, collected scrap metal, rags, paper and grew victory gardens.

Those people that fabricated the tools of war such as tanks, and jeeps and Liberty Ships that were built and slipped off the ways faster than our current government can pass any bill into law. Never mind years, Liberty Ships were built in weeks!

Those people that came up with “Rosie the Riveter” and invented The WAVES or Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service because German U-boats were sending U.S. Navy men and merchant mariners to watery graves in the North Atlantic in frightening numbers.

Those people that had a letter of the alphabet on their windshield of their car so they knew what day they were eligible to buy gas.

Those people that used chicory, or cracked grain to supplement their ground coffee and honey because sugar was sent to the American Fighting Man!

Oh and the American fighting man of that time! There was no “deployment,” no “tour of duty.” Remember “We’re coming over and we won’t come back until it’s over, over there?” The service members left for the duration, no email, no television and very little radio. The lucky ones received U.S. Mail through APOS and FPOS and it was often weeks old. Men had 3-year-old children they had never seen!

Those fighting men that fought as well as walked most of the way from Normandy to Berlin, then on “VE Day” or “Victory in Europe Day” were susceptible to being shipped around the world to fight the Japanese in the Pacific! If you take offense because Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed with nuclear weapons, I’m sorry, it was necessary, but it saved American and Japanese lives. I asked a friend of mine that landed at Omaha Beach in Normandy if it were true that the shore and edge of the water was red with Allied soldiers’ blood and he verified this as so. I tell you this not to be gruesome, but that you might get a feel for these forgotten hardships of combat in Europe.

Oh, and the Pacific!

Those marines that faced a fierce enemy entrenched and bunkered on those rocky volcanic islands and atolls, almost impervious to naval gunfire and ready to fight to the death on places we never knew of or don’t remember. Islands like Okinawa, Guam, Midway, Wake, Saipan, Kwajalein, Iwo Jima and the hundreds of islands around the Philippines and south Pacific.

Oh, and my Navy! Not only did the Navy personnel face suicide planes bent on crashing into their ships but they were outnumbered by a huge Japanese fleet! Gutsy young captains on little destroyers with 5-inch guns facing huge battleships with 16-inch guns that could begin firing upon them miles before they could return fire. I recommend watching the movie “The Last Stand of the Tin Can!” A young Navy lieutenant commander commanding a destroyer with all guns shot away was charging the Japanese fleet of battleships and was asked by his executive officer what he was doing. The captain replied, “Drawing fire from our other ships so they can attack!”

Stab any point on the globe, Cuba, North Africa, Europe, Japan, China, South America, the Middle East, S.E. Asia or almost anywhere else and some American endured hardship there in the name of freedom. We often don’t know or forget our missionaries, Homeland Security, USAID, CIA, DIA, embassy staff, Peace Corps and other personnel that serve and sometimes die for America.

We can’t go back and talk to those people that fled Europe because of religious persecution to found a new world to worship as they saw fit. Those people we must remember with, “In God We Trust” stamped on our money and many other public places in memory of their accomplishments. Let us forever keep, “In God we Trust” before the public eye in memory of the foundation of America.

Get to know the “Great Generation” before they’re all gone, not for their benefit but for yours. It will make you more aware of the great legacy of freedom you have inherited and of the value of democracy to this, the greatest country in the world, The United States of America.

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