Memorial Day

Today I drove through the gate at the nearby Marine Corps base. The young Lance Corporal who was faithfully executing his General Orders at the gate checked my ID card, saluted smartly, and wished me a “happy holiday weekend.” I’m not sure I can have that, frankly, for the similar reason that a devout Christian may think it strange to be wished a “Happy Easter.” It just doesn’t make sense when you examine what those holidays are about.

To me Memorial Day is intensely personal. I’ve had varying levels of a relationship with 15 Marines and Sailors who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Most of these men lost their lives in combat, but some lost their lives training for combat, too. Their deaths are still tragic–they were undertaking essentially the same tasks, doing dangerous work, and for the same ultimate goal.

Their names are:


Most of these guys are aviators. One was a UH-1 crew chief that I flew in combat with on dozens of occasions. I overflew over the wreckage which contained the remains of two of the pilots back in July, 2010. One of the 15 was a tank officer. Two were infantry officers. One was a special operations officer. One was a C2 officer. One of them was my “On-Wing” going through flight school (which means that he was the pilot who taught me how to fly).

15 irreplaceable lives.

I think about these men every day, but especially so on Memorial Day.

I hate this holiday–every second of it. I hope you hate it too. Happy Memorial Day–my ass.

Semper Fi, gents. Til Valhalla.

11 thoughts on “Memorial Day”

  1. Nobody says Happy Good Friday. Nothing happy about that day. Happy Easter? Well, yes. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have life everlasting. For Christians it is a happy occasion.

    And Decoration Day, as I grew up with it, was a split day. In the morning to the grave yard to decorate the graves of the long lost relatives known only to those who stayed home because they could no longer make the trek. We, the young, the mobile, would return home to sit patiently to hear the stories of those fallen as retold from the stories of their departed siblings.

    And then to the bicycle parade, the opening of the swimming pool, the picnic, to enjoy the new birth of freedom, bought with their blood.

    The sad Memorial Day will be the one when no one remembers, for then they will have died in vain. But that time has not come.

    Remember them. Thank them for their sacrifice. Honor their families for rearing them. Commiserate with them in their loss. Then be glad for your freedom, paid for by them.

    I suspect it may be cold comfort for you, but that is how Memorial Day becomes happy for me.

  2. Not to digress, but Easter is forever connected to the cross. I understand the joy the holiday brings, but that joy is hollow without the direct connection to Good Friday.

    Nonetheless, I think you get my point.

  3. A letter to his wife by William Kennedy May 22, 1863.

    Floating Hospl Nashville
    Near Vicksburg
    May 17th 1863

    Dear Wife,
    I take this opportunity of writing you a few lines to inform you of my health. I received a wound in my left arm but it is doing well and I expect to go home as soon as the rush is over, they are not taking any up the river now but the worst cases, you need not worry about me for I am in a good place and when I go up the river I may have to stay at week or two before getting a chance to go on home. I received two letters from you while on the Black River on Sunday night and on Monday we established our lines around Vicksburg, we had them completely surrounded before there was a gun fired. The action commenced on Tuesday and had been kept up ever since. Sometimes very hard fighting and sometimes light. I was wounded on the 22nd while getting supplies to the Regiment. I was sent to this Hospital by way of the Yazoo and arrived here the night of the 23rd with about 350 others, the rest of the Lasalle boys were all safe the last I heard from them hoping these lines may find you in good health I bring this to a close from your absent
    W.J. Kennedy
    P.S. do not worry or fret about me for I am doing well and will go up the river in a few days

    He died June 2nd, 1863.

    I will visit his grave in LaSalle IL on June 19. He is buried next to his mother, my great great grandmother and his brother, James who died of measles in camp the same year.

    World War I was the first war in history where more soldiers died of wounds than of disease.

  4. Many still remember. MSM Media is critical in the war on remembering, offering us instead the image of the rainbow warrior bowing and scraping at the feet of yet another aberrant, beheading and rape culture.

    I remember them, my Uncles, my neighbors, my friends and co-workers. WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon.

    I remember those memorialized on the wall, that I knew and worked with:

    Those too often forgotten:

    And in light of the latest smear, well worth remembering as well:

  5. All the living can do for the dead is pray for the repose of their souls, have gratitude for their sacrifice, and not forget them. None of this comes remotely close to making up for the lost lives, especially for those who knew and served with those who died. But it is all the living can do, and most of them do far less. I cannot say I hate this holiday, because some people take it as an opportunity for prayer, remembrance and gratitude. And if we didn’t have the holiday even fewer people would pray, remember and be grateful.

  6. I’m reading Toland’s “The Rising Sun,” which is about World War II from the Japanese POV, It’s interesting. I just finished the account of Pearl Harbor. Toland seems rather biased to the Japanese side but has a lot of information, including testimony from Japanese survivors. There has been some debate about why the Japanese committed so many atrocities during the war.

    It will be interesting to see how Toland handles this.

    I have read “Shattered Sword, ” which is about the battle of Midway from the Japanese POV. It had a lot of information on why the Japanese carriers were so vulnerable to dive bombers.

    Obama seems to have no compunction about inserting himself into all sorts of inappropriate settings.

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