On Monday, our nation will again observe Memorial Day. It is a day set aside to remember those in the military who have given their lives in defense of the Freedoms we as American Citizens enjoy. I recently heard a quote from General George S. Patton:
"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."
I could not agree more, on Memorial Day we should remember and be grateful for the ultimate price that was paid by those who died keeping the United States free; but it should not be in mourning - it should be with the joy of what they accomplished by making that sacrifice.
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My viewpoint of this day is probably a bit different than most, because of my background. I came into this world in a US Army hospital and spent the first 20 or so years of my life traveling to Army bases all over the US due to my father's career. Then, like many, I took over the family business of defending America by going into the Air Force and spent 20 years doing that. Now, my career still aligns with the military in my work as a civilian.
As a result of that upbringing, I had friends when I was young who lost fathers in Viet Nam - including one friend whose father is still MIA. So please join me on Memorial Day in remembering those who lost parents and had their lives permanently changed. That parent was enough of a patriot to put on a uniform and swear to support and defend our Constitution at all costs - up to and including their own life.
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When I was in the Air Force, I knew Airmen who died in peacetime training accidents, aircraft mishaps, and traffic casualties that were a direct result of their being in the service. That was the period of the Cold War and even though we were shooting rhetoric and not bullets, those deaths left spouses without their partner, a fiancé left incomplete, and friends with the loss of someone they cared about. Please remember those losses as well, just because it was not an enemy bullet that ended their life, it is no less worthy of being memorialized. Also, remember that in the end, we won the Cold War because we were vigilant and prepared for a real war with a very real threat.
Finally, I work with other Veterans and many of them carry wounds and scars from their service. Most of them have memories of Desert Storm or Operation Enduring Freedom or other desert wars as well as actions in Africa and the Pacific. They survived those actions, but as a result of things like Gulf War Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury, PTSD, and other wounds they have cut years off their life in selfless service to our nation. Remember that sacrifice as well and be grateful that because of them America is still free.
I have heard that only 1% of Americans serve in uniform, that is not a bad thing it is the result of being a free nation. However, I do feel that all Americans should know the oath that is taken by all men and women who agree to wear a uniform in defense of our nation. Consider these words today as well - they were spoken by every man and woman who gave their lives in defense of this country. Notice that I said gave? As a free nation, no one who may have conscientious or religious objections is forced to serve - it is a freewill choice. The oath:
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God
So, today let us remember that we live in a nation governed and run by that Constitution and be thankful that a select few men and women among us were there at the right time to ensure its continued existence. From Crispus Attucks (who was the first combatant casualty of the Revolutionary War) to 2nd Lt. Travis Mirgado (who died yesterday in Kandahar, Afghanistan), may we all thank God that they lived.
Note: Where there was a story for the pix, I included the link. Other pix include my son at the American Cemetery in Normandy, My Dad’s Jumping Mustangs Viet Nam Reunion, the Michigan Patriot Guard, after a Blue Highway Dedication, and Rolling Thunder.