Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day, 2018

This is a re-post of a previous Memorial Day thought. I have found nothing that better sums up my feelings about Memorial Day. It seems even more poignant so close to the dedication of the Montgomery County Vietnam Veterans memorial last Monday.

I will add that this year, 2018, no new names were added to The Wall, but 17 had their status changed from MIA to KIA. Is it too early to hope that the last name has been added?

I received this from Betsy Luecking of Montgomery County Veterans Affairs Committee, who forwarded it from past Secretary Chow of the Maryland Veterans Affairs Office. It is not original, some parts are more powerful than others and it has been around a while, but the sentiments are spot on.

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.

Just a little more from the more recent wars;

WWI                                                  116,516
WWII                                                 405,399
Vietnam                                                58,318*
Gulf War                                                   294                                
OEF                                                         2229                               
OIF                                                          4480                            
Total                                                    558,233    

These numbers are ever evolving and will most certainly change as time goes by.

1775-Present                                    1,254,667 
So, as always, enjoy whatever it is that you do to mark Memorial Day, but please take a moment, at least, to remember why we honor this day. 

* Three names were added to The Wall in May 2017 bringing the total to 58,318.

Come back on the 3rd for the promised revisit to Alabama, as always at 9:00am.

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

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Maryland, Montgomery County Vietnam Memorial II

As promised last time, here are some pics from the actual Montgomery County, Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedication.

For whom the bell tolls

The event began with the a motorcycle rally tribute. I was among the group of bikes so do not have photos of it. We were escorted by a large number of Montgomery County Motorcycle patrolmen and we were able to make a glorious noise upon arrival, engines, lights, and sirens blaring honoring our heroes. A heartfelt thank you to the MCPD for providing the escort, lights and sirens!

A lone sentry maintained this salute for the entire dedication ceremony.,Capt, USN

A number of speakers paid tribute to the fallen, missing, and their numerous friends, families, and comrades in attendance, over 90 in all out of crowd estimated to be in the hundreds. Mike Subin, USN (Ret.) 1970 - 1975 welcomed all and Wayne Miller, USMC Vietnam 69-69 sang The National Anthem. After an invocation by Wayne Stinchcomb, Chaplin, Dan Bullis USA Vietnam 1970 -71, Hung (Tony) Manh Bui, AVRN 1968 - 1975, Arthur Holms, Vietnam 1971, Everett Alvarez, POW 1964 - 73 made remarks.

 A large group of Vietnamese American Senior Association members were in attendance.

The memorial was dedicated by Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Executive as our Wall was unveiled by Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps from Gaithersburg High School.

After the unveiling wreaths were laid by Vietnam Veterans of America, Vietnamese American Senior Association, and Honor and Remember.

Vietnam Veterans of America
Vietnamese American Senior Association

Honor and Remember
Honor and Remember, also, provided these flags to each family. Each flag has the name, rank and date of loss of the lost loved one embroidered upon it.

Each of the 130 lost or missing's names were read aloud by Jane McCarty, Vietnam 1970 - 71, Bill Gray, Vietnam, 1968 - 69, and Wayne Miller, Vietnam 1968- 69 in addition to Senator Chris Van Hollen, who was referred to by Mike Subin, as "Angel of Veterans" for all the work and support he has put into veterans issues.

Jane McCarthy

After the reading of each name, a bell tolled.

After all the names were read, TAPS was sounded.

A final Benediction was prayed by Rabbi Mathew Simon, a Vietnam Era Chaplin.

Just after the dedication each family was given a flower to place at our wall.

Immediately adjacent to our Wall, we placed a plaque honoring all the men and women who served during the Vietnam Era, anyone of whom would have served is asked to do so and recognizing the fact that a war effort takes many, many more than the relatively few who actually end up doing the fighting. There is an old saying, something like, "They also serve, who but ... wait." and we honor then all.

The ceremonies ended with a reception that was catered by Mission Barbecue and we heartily thank them for their enthusiastic participation and support. In addition huge thanks go out to District Harley Davidson who sponsored the motorcycle rally to out wall.

There is an expression you have all heard: "It take a village...", it is no less true here. The number of people involved in this effort is staggering and without them, their hard work and selfless dedication, none of this would ever have happened. For fear of inadvertently omitting someone, I will just say thank you to you all, you know who you are.

This is the first picture ever taken of our Wall, I was there and helped Tim and Mark clean up the area when they completed their excellent work and took this very first shot.

Next time, we will return to the usual schedule of posts, picking up once again with Alabama. So, join me on the 29th for the afore promised trip back there, as always, at 9:00am.

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

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Maryland XIX

I want to interrupt the usual flow of these posts to tell you about the new Montgomery County, Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial the newest in the Nation.

It was in the early days of this project that I realized that we in Montgomery County had only a small, but dignified, memorial to all that served. It listed no names and as I saw more and more memorials around the country, I began to think that we should have something more appropriate. Montgomery County is fortunate to have a Commission on Veterans Affairs created by the County Executive Ike Leggett.

I went to a CVA meeting and proposed that we create a new memorial. Everyone of the Commissioners voted to proceed with the project. A sub-committee was formed and work begun. I was asked to be part of the committee although I am not a commissioner.

One of things I learned, that I had not anticipated, was how much the site chosen can dictate what can be done. Due to unforeseen difficulties we ended up moving the proposed memorial to five individual locations and the memorial changed in design at each one.

We finally settled on the existing Memorial Plaza in Rockville, the county seat. Now, in hind sight, I think it is the perfect location.

The plaza has an existing wall which defines the usable public area and this was was chosen to become Montgomery County's version of The Wall, honoring forever, the 130 county residents who were lost or are still Missing in Action.

The letters are cut into a stencil that is affixed to the wall and then sand blasted to create the names and text.

The names are then painted with a special outdoor masonry paint to give them contrast for viewing.

After painting each letter is carefully touched up with a razor blade.

Mark putting the finishing touches on a name

Granite is made up of several types of rock, some harder, some softer, so the sand blasting does not always completely remove all the stone. In such cased the artists resort to the more recognizable type of stone cutting, hammer and chisel.

Tim chiseling out a name

The guys doing the work, Tim and Mark, were kind enough to let me paint in the name of one of my childhood friends. It was a very special and emotional moment for me. Mark, the guy who did most of the painting, could do a name in less than a minute, while I, hand shaking violently, took, probably 6 or 7 minutes to complete Kevin's name. Mark and Tim were very patient and supportive and I truly appreciate their kindness, effort, and support.

Mark and Tim

So, this is a short version of how we got this done. There are numerous people to thank and I am afraid I might leave someone out if I tried to list them all here.

The new memorial will be dedicated on May 21st at 1pm at Memorial Plaza at the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street in Rockville, Maryland. There will be a number of events including a motorcycle rally, Everett Alvarez, the first pilot shot down over NVN and longest inhabitant of the Hanoi Hilton, will speak and families of the lost and missing honored. The bike rally will leave district (formerly Battley) Cycles at approximately 11:45- noon.

I will post more on this next week on the 24th, so check back then to see more pics of the event, as always at 9:00am.

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

Monday, May 14, 2018

Wyoming III

This is just one of two memorials I found in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

This one lies behind the Cheyenne Municipal Building located at 2101 O'Neil between W. 20th and W. 22nd. Streets.

It sits in a courtyard area formed by the Municipal building and the Civic Center.

The memorial honors the 13 from Laramie County who were lost and 6 additional MIAs still missing as of the dedication.

As is the case, more often than you might think, the memorial was donated by a group of bikers. In this case the Vietnam Vets MC, Chapter E.

Next time, on the 19th we will revisit Alabama, so meet me there, as always, at 9:00am.

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

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Wisconsin XII Faces of Remembrance

We have visited the High Ground before and I promised we would return.

Today, in keeping with my sub grouping of Faces of Remembrance, we will honor these faces from the original statue at the site, called, Fragments.

The artist that created the work would not sign it as he felt it was signed by the many names of the lost inscribed here, their families and all affected by the war. He said it was signed by "all of us."

This face, when examined closely, is that of a women, aiding all the others, carrying the burden of their loss. She is said to be the first woman ever featured on a Vietnam memorial.

This severely injured soldier is being aided and supported by all the others.

This face is unclear to me. My first impression is of someone very young, and his attire is inconclusive. when you watch the YouTube video on the site, they speak of the wars impact on families and children and just as the word children is uttered, this face appears. I am trying to track down if that was purposeful or simply coincidental. I will, of course keep you apprised of any info I find.

Next time on the 14th, we will revisit Wyoming, so join me there at 9:00am.

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

Friday, May 4, 2018

Washington XIV

It would be very easy to miss this small memorial as Steve and I nearly did. after circling around a bit we were finally able to find it.

Located in a lovely spot on the side of the road, it was very nice on a sunny day.

The weather had been raining off and on all day, but when we arrived it stopped and the clouds began to break up some.

Someone had recently left a few flowers.

The simple plaque commemorates and honors a local Medal of Honor recipient.

These small, intimate, touching memorials are always special to me and one hopes they bring some sense of peace to those who loved those so remembered.

Next time, on the 9th, we trek back to Wisconsin, so join me there, as always, at 9:00am.

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