Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

I posted this last year, but I feel that it bears repeating

Stop Saying "HAPPY Memorial Day"
By Jeff Seeber

I hope I live long enough to be able to get through the month of May just once without some moron sending me a Happy Memorial Day e-mail or hearing some idiot wishing people a Happy Memorial Day.

It's bad enough I'm reminded every May and every November that very few Americans know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but expecting me to remain silent about the growing trend to turn Memorial Day into some sort of celebration is asking too much. I usually chagrin and bear it, but I'm getting too old to care who I piss off from one day to the next, so if you're one of those fools who sends me a Happy Memorial Day e-mail or wishes people a Happy Memorial Day, listen up!

There is nothing Happy about Memorial Day. That's why it's called M-e-m-o-r-i-a-l Day! Memorial Day is to be commemorated, not celebrated. Memorial Day is supposed to be a day of quiet reflection, remembrance, tribute and rendering honors to those who have given their lives ensuring you nitwits can have the freedom to be able to take full advantage of the rights their deaths secured for you, one of which is the freedom to make ignorant statements like Happy Memorial Day.

Believe it or not, Memorial Day was not placed on calendars to remind you that summer has officially begun. Memorial Day is not the first day of Get Drunk While Pretending To Be An Outdoorsman At Your Cabin season. Memorial Day was not created by General Motors so their dealerships could have a Three-Day Used Car Clearance Blowout. Memorial Day is not intended to be the first day of National Burn That Burger Month.

Memorial Day is supposed to be commemorated on May 30th ... not May 28th, May 29th or May 31st. It makes no difference what day of the week the 30th falls, that's when Memorial Day is supposed to be observed. However, the United States Congress changed the date in 1971 to the last Monday in May to give Americans yet another 3-day weekend. After all, what's more important ... one-hundred-plus years of American tradition or giving Americans one more 3-day weekend to have a few brewskis while driving to see Yellowstone with the wife and kids?

The National Moment of Remembrance was started to encourage all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. Of course, it's been a dismal failure. I mean, c'mon, you expect Americans to pause for an ENTIRE MINUTE to remember those who died serving the people who are too busy to pause for ONE ENTIRE MINUTE? Are you nuts?

It's bad enough American Civics is no longer taught in American schools. It's bad enough most Americans ignore Armed Forces Day. It's bad enough that very few civilians know that May is National Military Family Appreciation Month. It's bad enough few Americans understand that Veterans Day is now intended to honor all those who have worn a uniform serving in this nation's Military, especially those still living. But it's pitiful that most Americans can't seem to comprehend that Memorial Day is the one day a year when we are asked to remember those who gave their lives for this country.

Let me repeat that ... they gave their LIVES. Most of them were teenagers or in their twenties. Many of them left behind a spouse after being married for a very short period of time. Some of them left behind infant children who grew up never knowing one of the two people who brought them into this world with the good fortune of being born a free person. All of them had plans for a full and long life, but they interrupted those plans because they knew that serving their country, and the risks that commitment entails, was more important than life itself.

Their dreams and their expectations ended suddenly on a battlefield in some foreign land, or in a training accident at home or abroad, or during a secret mission to ensure this country is not attacked without warning. Some of them are buried in unmarked graves on foreign soil or rest forever in the sea. Some became missing in the fog of war and will never be accounted for.

Is it too much to ask that Americans pause for one day every year to recognize those who gave the last full measure of devotion? Are we as a nation so selfish, so lazy, so ignorant of the reality of the price of freedom, that we can't set aside even one day to acknowledge the sacrifice of each and every one of our honorable dead? Apparently it is too much to ask. Apparently expecting Americans to relinquish even one day of basking in the sun while swilling beer is too much of an imposition. Let's face it, most Americans prefer a Happy Memorial Day.

For those of us who served, and for the families and friends of those who gave their lives, Memorial Day will always be the one day a year when we publicly honor our buddies, our brothers, our sisters, our sons, our daughters, our fathers, our mothers, our nieces and nephews, our cousins ... all those who perished, their young lives cut short, while serving America ... while fighting next to us ... while protecting you. The rest of the year, we remember them in private. We remember them daily. We will never forget them.

To simplify all of this:
Armed forces Day, the third Saturday of May and it honors those serving.
Memorial Day, Last Monday in May and it honors those that died while serving
Veterans Day, November 11 and it honors those who served.

From Mike in 2017:

I would like to add to this, that To remember is why hundreds of thousands of bikers, many, many of them vets, ride to The Wall each Memorial Day in what is called "Rolling Thunder." They are riding today, the 29th and I hope to be among them, but if I cannot, I will certainly be with them in spirit, memorializing the 59, 315* names on The Wall.

Next time we will return to California, so meet me there at 9:00am on the 3rd of June.

To see memorials from any state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

Since I wrote the above a few days ago, I spoke to the folks at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the folks who built and maintain The Wall. They told me that three more names have been added this May, bringing the new total to 58,318. 

Once again,  I wonder, are these the last?

These new additions are:

  • Kenneth R. McGuire; CPL, USMC; Rib Lake, Wisc.; Panel 34W, Line 42
  • John T. Whitson; SGT, USA; Huntsville, Texas; Panel 32W, Line 58
  • Edward L. Wilmers; SGT, USA; Lapeer, Mich.; Panel 62E, Line 7

Rest in peace, brothers.

Next time, something a little different, a plea for your help. Check back on June 3rd for more.

To see memorials from any state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Arizona XIV

Ajo, Arizona is about 2 and a half hours west of Tucson and roughly 40 miles above the Mexican border, in fact I had to go through border security twice to get there. I have never seen so many cameras in one place in my life!

I, also, drove through part of the Tohono O'odham reservation where I had a chance to see a memorial under construction and have a great conversation with the very helpful woman at the local American Legion, but, more on that another day.

Ajo was a mining town for many years but the mine, like so many in the area is now closed.

The local VFW has a memorial to several wars just outside its doors.

Vietnam is flanked by WW II and Korea.

The post was locked up tight the day I was there, so I could not speak to anyone for more information.

As is all too often the case, I could find no information about the memorial or the VFW Post except that its address is 1764 North 2nd Street, Ajo.

Next time, on the 29th, I will have a special Memorial Day post, so join me here at 9:00am.

To see additional posts from Arizona, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Friday, May 19, 2017

West Virginia IX

Harper's Ferry West Virginia certainly has its rightful place in history and millions upon millions have visited this storied town. I wonder how many have ventured just a little bit down West Washington Street and seen this memorial on the lawn of the Harper's Ferry Middle school?

Dedicated to all who have served in our wars the memorial stones display the insignias of the five services plus the Merchant Marine, a service not always represented.

Near by is this glass enclosed case with the stories of some of Jefferson County's heroes.

In addition to these local heroes the names of those lost are listed, too from 'Nam and the other 20th century wars.

West Virginia, as I have probably mentioned before, lost more citizens per capita than any other state.

Next time, on the 24th, we will return to Arizona. Join me there, as always, at 9:00am.

To see other memorials from West Virginia, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Washington X

Directly across the parking lot from the WWI memorial, an exact, life sized, replica of Stonehenge, is this multi-war memorial to those from the Maryhill area lost in several wars. (You can find more on that memorial by clicking on Washington and scrolling back a bit.)

This memorial, too, stands high above the Columbia River and is guarded by the wind turbines higher on the hill.

Several names are listed here from the area.

As is so often the case, people have left things behind: coins, candy, parts of plants, a book, perhaps a favorite. One wonders what each of these gifts meant to the person that left it or to the person it was left for?

Our next stop will be West Virginia, so join me there at 9:00am on the 19th.

To see other memorials from Washington, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Virginia IX

Just across the Potomac River from The Wall is Arlington, Virginia, one of the most historic cities in our nation. It is the home of the National Cemetery and many other historic buildings and places.

Nestled on a corner, at Wilson and Irving, is this memorial to many from the area who gave all for a number of causes.

The main dedication plaque tells us that the stones are from the original Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and that the memorial was placed in 1931.

Someone had recently placed a wreath to honor those here. I can't say if it was to all, the Korean lost listed here, too, or our brothers and sisters from Nam, but I choose to think that it honors us, as I was here shortly after Vietnam Remembrance Day.

Next time, on the 14th, we will return to Washington, so join me there, as always, at 9:00am.

To see additional memorials from Virginia, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Vermont VII

I was going to my nephew's wedding at the Mountain Top Inn Resort in Chittenden, Vermont and as we turned the corner on the road up to the Inn, I saw this sign.

Longtime followers of A Means to Heal know that I have visited hundreds and hundreds of memorials in the US, Canada, and Ireland, but this one was a complete surprise. Not only because I was not expecting it, but, also, because of it's simplicity. If you have followed on this journey for any length of time, you know that memorials can be very elaborate, but this one, to me, is elegant because of its simplicity.

Those lost, I am guessing, are marked with a star as are the ones on the left side, WWII. The Vietnam portion contains no stars but in my research I have found two names of local citizens now known lost.

I do not know if there are plans to update this memorial and I can find nothing about it online. so, again, I will ask you to get in touch if you are from Chittenden or the area and have any information.

The memorial is located on your left just after you turn on to Mountain Top Road from E. Pittsford/Chittenden Rd.

Next time, on the 9th, we will head south to Virginia, so check back then,as always, at 9:00am.

To see other memorials from Vermont, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.