As another Memorial Day weekend descends upon us, we are reminded of why we hold the day. As we hold barbecues and travel to other places for the first long weekend of the summer, tributes and memorials will be held all over America to honor those who never came home from all of the wars we have fought in.
We are reminded of such heroes as Audie Murphy, Alvin York, Charles Lindberg, Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Ira Hayes, George S. Patton and many more.
Politicians invoking memories of battles from long ago give speeches.
Flags are lowered to half-mast as names are still being added to memorials for our war dead.
Sadly, all too many just hold barbecues, enjoy the beach or just enjoy a long weekend, never giving a thought to so many who sacrificed all so that others could live free.
Little attention is given to the names on memorials other than those who have received notoriety from politicians and the media. War has claimed many in our history that are largely forgotten by all, except those that loved them when they went off to war.
Names like SSG Robert Pilk, Sgt Scott Stanton or Pfc. Otis Platt are unknown to nearly all of America. Yet each gave their all in Viet Nam paying the ultimate sacrifice.
SSG Pilk and Sgt Stanton lost their lives due to enemy action. Pfc. Platt lost his preparing a truck for inspection, drowning after slipping off of the hood while washing it. His death can be no less tragic than the others.
Pfc. Garfield Langhorn, who preceded me to C Troop 7/17th Air Cav, threw himself on a grenade to save others and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously. America hasn’t produced a braver man, but America doesn’t know Pfc. Langhorn. Only his family, loved ones and those who he saved recall him and will pay homage to his memory this Memorial Day.
Hundreds of thousands have gone off to war for America only to never return. World War One cost us over 53,000 and World War Two cost over 400,000 Americans, our bloodiest war ever.
Without the sacrifices of these brave people, the world would not have been freed from the oppression of the Nazi’s, Fascists and Imperial Japan.
Since World War Two, America has sacrificed over 100,000 more, with women’s names being added to the list more than ever before. Women who performed arduous tasks before they were permitted in combat roles have sacrificed their all too and remain even more forgotten than thousands of faceless men who paid the ultimate price.
Women like 1Lt. Sharon Lane, who died from wounds suffered from a rocket attack on the hospital where she was caring for the wounded in Chu Lai Viet Nam.
38 women serving in the W.A.S.P. gave their lives during World War Two ferrying Military Aircraft to our men. Their role has been largely underrated and mostly forgotten until recently as their service 65 years ago is finally being recognized.
Women are on the front lines in today’s War on Terror and several have given their lives as well.
We cannot diminish the sacrifices of our sisters in arms who gave all any more than we would our brothers in arms.
Over the years we have had citizens of other nations cross our borders and serve in our Military during war. From Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and all over, many not even of our country have came and sacrificed on our behalf, seeing that America has been the true beacon of freedom for all of mankind.
As you slap your burgers on the grill and pop open a cold one, take a few moments to remember those unknown who took the bullets for all of us in order to keep us free. Remind those around you that they too owe these families and loved ones a debt that can never be repaid.
Reach out to Veterans from all wars and give a simple thank you for their sacrifices. They too gave a full measure and deserve the thanks of our nation.
Mourn those we lost, but be thankful too. For without them, we would not have the free holidays we enjoy and could be living under an oppressive dictatorial regime.
Take just a few moments Monday to give thanks. After all, it is but a Pittance of Time.
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
by Charles M. Province