Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018

It always seems weird to say “Happy Memorial Day.” That’s like saying, “Have fun at the funeral.” The point of the day is to remember and give thanks to those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Memorial Day is more than just the beginning of BBQ season.

And it’s particularly gut-wrenching this year when I see the sad state of our country. I won’t turn this into a political rant, but you know what I’m getting at. I’ll just say that those who died on our behalf deserve more.

I live near a veterans’ cemetery and every year American flags are placed on the tombstones. There are endless rows of them. It always brings home the reality.

I long for the day I can once again drive by that cemetery and not feel a certain amount of shame.

Have a reflective Memorial Day.


Mark said...

I don't mean to rant either but it so saddens me that our country doesn't provide all the assistance veterans require when they return injured in some way, seen or unseen. Why should we need a "wounded warrior project?" Shouldn't we just fund the VA adequately and fully?

Thanks to all who have served, including my dad who was in the Navy, Marines and the Army! Was in WWII and Korea.

blinky said...

Thoughts and prayers. Oh wait I was thinking it was another mass shooting. Sorry.
Memorial Day is the holiday to honor the people we send to fight the never ending war for no reason. Maybe we should revive the magnetic ribbons for the bumpers of our Hummers that made us feel supportive of the military a decade ago. Or maybe we should just do our real civic duty and go shopping at the mall. After all we are consumers, not citizens.

Annie C. said...

My son is in the Marine Corp currently in Afghanistan. I feel no shame.

VP81955 said...

My father served in the Army as an MP during World War II, twice came close to going overseas (once in Europe, the other in the Pacific). My sister's husband did go overseas in the '60s to Vietnam, where he was a Green Beret. Both certainly had friends who never returned from their respective conflicts, and today we should remember them.

Janet Ybarra said...

I agree, @Mark. After their service, veterans should not want--not only for health care but for pension, etc., so a veteran after they return home should have as few worries and have as comfortable a life as possible.

I think that would be a real thank you.... not the half-assed jingoism they get today.

Anonymous said...

My father was an Army medic in the Pacific during WWII: Peace time drafted at age 30 in 1941, out in 1945. The only war story my dad shared was one where, while his unit was under attack and laying low, a fellow soldier crawled over to him, thinking him dead, and tried to steal his watch.

Dr Loser said...

I (an Englishman) have just posted thanks on a baseball site for those who we memorialise on this day, Ken.
1) Dough Boys
2) GIs, 1941-1945
3) Vets from the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq Wars, Afghanistan, wherever.
All of these veterans died, were wounded, or went through horrible experiences.
All of these veterans demand our respect, because they put their lives on the line, they did their best to keep their comrades safe, and even if they didn't believe in the politics, they still stood up, took all the crap coming at them (including the Yippie crap in 1968), and did what they thought their country needed them to do.

This is not a day to prate about whatever passes for "politics" at the moment. It isn't even a day to prate about "bravery," which I have no doubt is something that today's spineless politicians will no doubt laud.

It's a day to remember honesty and, yes sacrifice. Even, I suppose, the now distant notion of "duty."

I know it all sounds stupid, if your perspective is 2018 Republicans vs Democrats. But it isn't stupid at all. It's what VP81995 and Annie C said above.

And what my Great Uncles Charles and Percival Doubleday would say, if only they'd survived the last year of the First World War.

And what my Great Uncle Eric would say. My Great Uncle Eric was the youngest child, and was reported as having been killed by a Luftwaffe bomb on the front line in April 1945.

What actually happened to Great Uncle Eric was that he survived 1945 in its entirety. He was part of a detail to clear out the remnants of booby-traps in Holland during 1946, and wouldn't you know? He sat on a khazi with a bomb underneath it and blew his own ass up to kingdom come... Just like Elvis, but without the cheese-burgers.

It's on days like this that I like to remember my Great Uncle Eric. Obviously, I have no memory whatsoever of him. But please do not take the memory I don't have in the first place away from me.

Henry said...

Friday Question: I know dramas aren't you thing, but do you have any idea why it is that when a network cancels a show where the story is based on some mystery, they can't at least order a few final episodes to give the writers a chance to wrap up the mystery. This seems like common sense. Why leave fans so angry. Is there some behind the scenes reason that networks don't do this?

kent said...

My son and his wife are both Marines. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Blinky most assuredly does not speak for me and, while I respect his right to be flippant, I find his exercise of that right distasteful.

Erich617 said...

If I can get on a little soap box for a minute, I know the cemetery you are talking about. From what I remember, in the past, you have mentioned living in Westwood. You have also mentioned being a UCLA alum and teaching there. Today, I went with the UCLA Volunteer Center to help the veterans living at the VA in Westwood attend a ceremony at the cemetery. Alumni are welcome to attend these sorts of events, and it is a way to give show respect and compassion to those who served even if there isn't much to be proud of right now.

Jeff Maxwell said...

Like many, the late 60’s was a tumultuous time for me. It forced me to question my belief in my country, our military and our leaders. In 1969 I spent six weeks in Korea, two weeks on Okinawa, Japan, and two weeks in the Philippines performing for soldiers in the very military I had begun to distrust.

I came home still wary of the philosophies of the military machine, but with profound affection and respect for the soldiers of all sexes who gave a minimum of two years of their lives to defend the interests of the United States. Debating the merit of those interests or the horrendous, despicable means to that end will - and should - remain a necessary constant in our country. But the soldiers doing that job were truly magnificent people. I’m sorry, it was difficult to watch someone I don’t have respect for lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Every Memorial day, and some other days, I think of those brave folks who for ten weeks extended their hands and affection to me. I’m proud to say my show partners and I joyfully worked our asses off to make them laugh.

I feel there are tumultuous days ahead, but I did eat a couple of hotdogs today. I believe they would’ve wanted me to.

VincentS said...

It's also not the time for sales or even barbecues.

Matt said...

In Indiana Memorial Day is the Indianapolis 500. There is a lot of pageantry that you don't see on TV. The focus is on the military and what the day means. The winters are long here in Indiana, often times feeling like they'll never end. When May arrives, the grass starts to green, leaves are filling out the trees and the sound of Indy cars can be heard. Hope returns and the warm weather comes back. Many days are spent at the Speedway watching practice with friends, sitting in the sun and taking it all in.

We don't get to watch the race live in Indianapolis. We listen to it on the radio. (To me, the race looks best on the radio). I can remember sitting on the front porch with my Dad and brothers listening to the race in the early 70s and we all became silent when the Military ceremonies began. We never forget what the day is all about. The two are tied together for me forever. And if you're not weeping by the end of everything leading up to "Drives start your engines", there is something wrong. The Bishop of Archdiocese of Indianapolis will at times, during the invocation, say a brief prayer in languages of the different drivers in the race, ending with Godspeed. Wipes me out every time.

This is what most people see, but it's much more than this:

Diane D. said...

Rather than visit cemeteries, I started visiting War Memorials and Monuments when I lived just a few blocks from one in Kansas City, Mo. it is very beautiful and is in a beautiful park. I discovered that whenever I saw that monument, what I felt was overwhelming gratitude rather than overwhelming sadness. There was only one war memorial that did not make me want to say “thank you.” When I visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, what I wanted to say when I looked at those tens of thousands of names was, “I’m so sorry.”

I don’t feel that way about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Misguided as one or both might have been, these wonderful young men and women volunteered and were proud of their service, and were treated like heroes when they came home. And there was no question what their mission was. That makes all the difference. Vietnam Veterans were sent, most of them against their will to sacrifice their lives and spirits in a living hell. And when they came home, wounded and broken, by way of gratitude from their countrymen, they were spat upon.

Stephanie said...

My son and I have placed flags at that cemetery for the past few years (he's 9). It isn't just a scouting event, and they welcome anyone who'd like to participate. It's a humbling event and even in times like these, the goodness of people is still alive and well. It actually lifted my spirits being there over the weekend.

100% agree on 'Have fun at the funeral.' I still have to stop myself from wishing people Happy Memorial Day.

McAlvie said...

My father was in the U.S. Air Force in the 60s. It was a difficult time to be in the military, although my father never talked about that. My mother sometimes references it still, though. To serve your country means going where you are sent, without questioning or arguing. We honor those who fought and died, but I have enormous respect for those who serve, period. For all the greatness of this country, the way we treated those who served in Vietnam, that's a stain, a shame, that I hope we always remember. Protest, protest loud. It's our right and our duty. But dear God let's never again take it out on those who only go where they are sent.

I watched the Memorial Day concert in D.C. on my local PBS station, and I was pleased to see that they gave special attention to the Korean war. It wasn't as romantic as either of the world wars, and it got lost in the noise over Vietnam. That's not right. If you have the chance to visit D.C., I strongly suggest you make some time, on a rainy, cold evening if you can arrange it, to visit the Korean War Memorial. You can't get quite the same effect in daylight, but at night it's quite haunting.

Liggie said...

I think we should also remember the civilians killed during wars, and in the memory of them and the combatants/veterans, work toward a future where wars no longer happen. The soldiers getting thrown into bad situations by those in power, the civilians caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, it's all a terrible and avoidable tragedy.