Memorial Day has passed. I didn’t exactly get to spend it the way I planned, but it’s ok. I think it’s still timely to talk about Memorial Day considering D-Day is coming up.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about Memorial Day this year. I always do. I saw a tweet by Kay Wilson who queried “How can any American ever say Happy Memorial Day?” If you are unfamiliar with Kay, she is amazing. She is the victim of a horrific machete attack. Kay is British born, and living in Israel.

From doing a little reading, it seems the average age of soldiers from the Revolutionary War, up till now is early 20s. This is including older experienced officers which raises the age average. Although drummer boys could be as young as 12. I believe I read the average life expectancy of a solider in WWI in the trenches was six weeks. Six. Weeks.

How many died? I got an interesting email from Shmuel Sackett of Zehut, an Israeli political party I belong to. Yeah, pretty cool beans. To be honest though, I am not the only one who got the email, it was one Shmuel sent out to the group. It’s also right in line with Kay’s sentiments and is titled “What Did You Buy On Memorial Day?”

Let me ask you a question. Isn’t Memorial Day supposed to be somber? A day of remembrance, mourning and reflection? A day to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of brave men and women who lost their lives fighting for the USA? Do you have any idea how many heroes we are talking about? I did some research and found that from the American Revolutionary War until today – are you ready for this? – a total of 666,441 American soldiers have lost their lives in battle. If it’s hard for you to think about war from 1776, let me break down that number in more modern times. In WWII – 291,557 soldiers were killed and in Vietnam the number was 47,424. After 9/11, American forces went to war in Afghanistan and lost 1,954 soldiers while a whopping 3,836 have been killed in Iraq.

He is expressing his shock and sorrow outrage, let’s be honest, that in America, Memorial Day has become a day of picnics, shopping and holiday.

I’m not saying that there aren’t Americans that don’t feel the same. There are. Originally Memorial Day was called Decoration Day and it’s origins predate the Civil War. I can still remember when it changed from being observed on May 30th. That was back in 1971. My family observed it as a Memorial Day to family members that were gone and we would go decorate graves. Not that I didn’t have family that served in the military, I did. My Dad was in the Navy, one Uncle was in the Navy and wanted to be a fighter pilot. At 6’4” he was deemed too tall and instead was in communications. It was interesting when I talked to him about it a few years ago, he still couldn’t tell me much of what he did. I do know he was aboard the USS Missouri the day Japan surrendered. I have another Uncle that was in the Battle of Midway and survived. He had been gone for many years before I ever found that out. I was in first grade when he died at 33 of a heart attack and I was devastated. I have another Uncle that also served in the Navy, and at one time I considered enlisting in the Navy. My nephew is trying his very best to be accepted into a different branch of the military. Sigh, there’s always one. But, I couldn’t be prouder of “The Brat” and I love him dearly.

This is one paragraph, about one family, and I’m so blessed, all mine survived. Look at the stats quoted by Shmuel above. All those listed had families, they had lives and loves. They had hopes, dreams and aspirations.

In Israel, Yom Hazikaron יוֹם הַזִּכָּרוֹן is observed very differently.

By law, all places of entertainment are closed on the eve of Yom Hazikaron, and broadcasting and educational bodies note the solemnity of the day.

Memorial candles are lit in homes, army camps, schools, synagogues, and public places, and the flags are lowered to half staff. Throughout the day serving and retired military personnel serve as honor guards at war memorials throughout the country, and the families of the fallen participate in memorial ceremonies at military cemeteries.

National memorial services are held in the presence of Israel’s top leadership and military personnel. The day opens with a siren the preceding evening at 20:00 (8:00 pm), given that in the Hebrew calendar system, a day begins at sunset. The siren is heard all over the country and lasts for one minute, during which Israelis stop everything, including driving on highways, and stand in silence, commemorating the fallen and showing respect.

When I saw the post from Kay, I answered her and told her it is because so many in America do not even realize what Memorial Day is. Some of it is due to the massive liberal influences in the government, and some of it is due to the school system. I heard a very interesting lecture recently and facts and figures were given showing the decimation of the US military in the last 8 years, by our own government. In addition to the military being used as a “social experiment”. And don’t think that hasn’t taken a toll.

Organizational Transitions

I was still young when the soldiers came back from Viet Nam, and I remember stories of them being spit on and berated. Thank you Walter Cronkite, Jane Fonda and John Kerry, and scores of liberal school teachers, and countless others. Bill Clintoon set a shining example by fleeing to Canada. I can remember being at an amusement park one time in Texas, not on Memorial Day. The two men in line ahead of me were talking about having come back. In line it was hard not to over-hear. I looked at them and said “Thank you, thank you for serving”. They were young, and looked shocked. Then they looked grateful. They didn’t determine the policies of going to war, they didn’t get a vote on being sent. They got drafted, and they suited up and showed up and tried to do the right thing.

I was recently in a conversation with a man and his wife. The man had retired out of the Marine Corp after 38 years. They were watching a John Wayne movie on TV, he was in a submarine. She had gone with him on every posting he had ever been sent. She commented “All wars are stupid”. I was quite for a moment, it happens rarely, then replied “Yes, perhaps, but some of them need to be fought, and some of them are worth fighting”. I’m working on Hebrew as a second language, not German, I get to make a choice. Some wars need to be fought.

I’m pretty old now, I’ve got to realize some of my hopes and dreams, there are some still in the bag to be worked towards. But I’m alive, and I have that chance. These men and women that showed up and answered the call? Their hopes and dreams died with them on fields, beaches, in trenches and hedgerows. I would also include law enforcement officers who answer a calling to try to protect as those that fall in service to our country now. It’s not the same, they get to go home (usually) at the end of their shift, but that “sheepdog” mentality resides in them as well. They are serving in a different arena.

I admit it, I would like to see America observe Memorial Day in a way more similar to Israel’s observance. I would like to have a nationwide siren sounded at the same time all across the US and people stop what they are doing in honor of those that gave all. I would like to see stores close and the day treated as a day to respectfully honor fallen heroes. While I can’t make that happen, I can make sure I do my best to honor the men and women who suited up and showed up.

This video is from Black Rifle Coffee company. They are veteran owned and operated. They also star in their own videos. Some of which are pretty darn funny, some outrageous, some kinda gross. But all quite original. I just got my first order, and it’s darn good coffee! No, they are not paying me to write this, they don’t even know who I am, but this video is what made me “pull the trigger” on buying the coffee. I highly recommend “Coffee or Die”.

Just some things to keep in mind with the approach of D-Day.



2 thoughts on “Memories”

  1. Sheila,
    I have to admit, I read this last night and listened to the video. I had planned to write, but I found that after listening, I was just too spent to do much but recover from my sorrow, and my amazement at the bravery this woman showed. It is often discussed this time of year about the bravery shown by our soldiers during the past, and rightfully so. But we must also remember that there are other kinds of bravery, and this lady is a prime example. She not only was brave enough to not die, but she was brave enough to LIVE. I wonder how I would have acted in her shoes.
    One of the other huge things that she had to say, and that probably was just passed over by most people, is the fact that she has friends who are Palestinian. It was something that I realized that I was guilty of, and she turned my heart around. People often do this, and so I am not alone, but I realized that I lumped all Palestinians in with each other. In doing so, this was not only bigoted, but it was horribly unfair to the Palestinians who are not looking to harm people of another nation or religion, but only wish to live their lives in peace and to worship G-d the way that they wanted to. I failed to understand that just like in America, you can’t paint everyone with the same brush, and you can’t ascribe the actions of the idiots and the government, ( I know, I repeat myself), to everyone.
    So this post from you Sheila, not only showed me this lady and her story, but it also allowed me to understand that I still have much to learn about how people relate with each other on a worldwide stage, when that stage is not in the spotlight, but instead is one neighbor to another. You continue to not only teach me about things like this, but also you push me to grow. I wish that I had started learning and growing in this area long ago, but it is never too late.
    On a different note, I also wish that Memorial Day was different than it is. It used to be much more of an occasion for remembrance when I was young, but like much of our life, things have become about self instead of about gratitude.
    I was just texting with my son, who is in the Navy. He is on his first sea deployment, and is right now in the Red Sea. He passed through the Suez Canal two weeks ago, and saw the Rock of Gibraltar as well. They were in Germany and then Norway. He had told me that the people of Germany were not very friendly, but that those of Norway had never met a stranger. Two different bartenders from two different cities came back on their day off to spend time with them. The bartenders couldn’t afford to drink where they worked. He said that they have a 25% tax there, and so it was hard to make a living and also spend money drinking. He is on the cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, named after the battle of Leyte Gulf of the second world war. He is a sonar tech, second class petty officer. He has a wife and my grandaughter in VA.
    Again, thanks for your postings, and for The Zelman Partisans. Have a wonderful June, and be well.

  2. And you be blessed as well! Yeah, Kay slowed me in my tracks a little too. I’ve read that many of the Gazans want to escape Gaza. Not because they are escaping the Israelis, but rather Hamass.
    We all have our scars, we have all fought battles. Memorial Day really does need to recover it’s meaning. I’m hoping that under President Trump that will happen.

    You my friend, are not alone in learning all the time. I would like to think some of the things I learn along the way make me wiser, kinder and more forgiving, and I’m sure some do. But life is life, and some of the things I learn make me more wary, more protective and flat capable of being meaner, if the occasion calls for it. Life is about balance. “Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.” ~~ Adam Smith.
    And some things we learn just help us to see patterns quicker and more clearly. Some things are just because we really want to know how to do that. I figure G-d puts some of those yearnings in there for a reason.

    Please thank your son and his family (including you) because I feel families are serving right along side the member of the military.

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