Tag Archives: honor

Memories

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.

 

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War horses

I know Veteran’s Day was a week ago. And I apologize, for not having written a column for Veteran’s Day. Life has been a bit hectic and I had an event that I wanted to attended before I wrote my column.

The use of war horses goes back about 5,000 years, in human, not horse years. Originally I don’t believe they were ridden, instead being used more as pack animals and later pulling wagons and chariots. As equine technology improved, saddles and stirrups came along and the horseback rider made a difference in battles. Different breeds of horses were used for different tasks, owing to their difference in sizes and temperaments. While a Friesian makes a fine mount for a knight, it’s not going to work so well for the cavalry scout.

These horses have fought alongside and died alongside their people for thousands of years. One of the most well known is Sgt. Reckless. She was a member of the USMC, she EARNED the rank of Sargent, believe me. Take a minute and read about her. She was amazing, and came from very humble beginnings.

So why am I writing about horses for Veteran’s Day? Because there is a new organization called Warhorses for Veterans. Their goal is to help Veterans that have returned home and find being home not quite as familiar and comfortable as it should be. Not as easy to return as it should be. It’s not always easy to talk through stuff with people that have no understanding (no matter how much they try) of what you’ve been through.

Warhorses was founded by a young man after he came back from Iraq around 2004 he returned to his equine oriented life. He found that it gave a sense of peace and calming and began to wonder about the possibilities of it helping other veterans. With the help of a wonderful couple Warhorses for Veterans was founded.

My view, and my view alone here. No matter how people may feel about the wars America has been engaged in, the “limited actions”, “police actions” or whatever else they may be called, one thing remains the same. Our soldiers have suited up, showed up, given their best and sometimes their all. They have left behind their families, their homes and their jobs to do what was put in front of them. I guess all of us know when we get on the highway to go some place we may not come back. But that is not the same as waking up of a morning drinking a cup of coffee and getting in a tank to go out on the battlefield. That camaraderie that develops in battle is part of what helps in the Warhorses program.

More than once on American soil as well as other countries soldiers are what stood between civilians and a threat. I’m very aware and appreciative of the liberties I still enjoy because of their sacrifices.

This last Sunday Warhorses hosted a 5K run/walk. Their goal is to raise money to help the program, which if you didn’t read the link, is briefly, to give Veterans a rural place where they can talk with each other, network and experience the healing that horses bring. No singing Kum Ba Yah. There is no expense to the Veteran. This is not a government program, this is good people seeing a need and stepping up to help.

I signed on.

It was a cool/cold day and a bit more of a hilly course than most of my walks, but I didn’t care. I had told a co-worker of mine on Wednesday night about the program and that I was signed up. He is a Viet Nam veteran, and not given to warm fuzzys, but is kind. He listened and said “They are doing good work, and you are doing a good thing”. From him? That’s a lot. I held on to that as I dug in and powered up those hills. It was windy and “right nippy” as we say around these parts. I didn’t care. I did my best and completed the most challenging course in my best time ever.

I had a chance to meet one of the founders after the race and told him what my co-worker had said, and who he was. He seemed pleased, and glad to know it was being well received. I’m also glad I was wearing my very fetching berry colored TZP zippy hoodie.

I fully realize walking in a 5K is pitiful small thanks to our Veterans, both staff of TZP and our members, but it’s what I could do, and I wanted so much to find a way, to try in some way, to give back for what I have so generously been given by ya’ll.

Thank you Veterans and their families who have given so much. Ya’ll are my heroes and I thank you from the bottom of my heart and feet.

Veterans
Veterans

 

Warhorses, still on the job
War horses, still on the job

You’ll have to click on the picture about to understand why it’s there 😉

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