Tag: Memorial Day

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A “What If” Memorial Day

 
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General George Washington with his army at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania during the winter of 1777- 1778, from the Valley Forge Historical Society

The news could not have been worse. Starvation, malnutrition, diseases such as typhoid, smallpox, dysentery, and pneumonia, along with freezing temperatures that assaulted thousands of shoeless feet bloodying the snow, attached to bands of “walking skeletons” exposed to the elements by threadbare garments—all combined to claim 2500 lives from General Washington’s army of 12,000 Continentals, who struggled through their encampment at Valley Forge during the 1777-78 Winter. One bitter soldier wrote, “Poor food — hard lodging — Cold Weather — fatigue — Nasty Cloaths — nasty Cookery — Vomit half my time — smoak’d out of my senses — the Devil’s in it — I can’t endure it — Why are we sent here to starve and freeze…?”

Why, indeed? Desertions were rife — “astonishing,” according to one observer — and mutterings of mutiny escaped from cracked lips of desperate, shivering volunteers, many of whom vowed to liberate themselves from their confinement as soon as their enlistments were up. Rumors of replacing General Washington were whispered in some ears — was there a conspiracy lurking in this misery? Finally, a detachment from the Continental Congress showed up to query the good general about what was going on. Washington exploded: “I’ve been leading this band of rabble under the worst conditions imaginable against the most powerful country the world has ever seen, and you have the unbridled impudence to question my leadership? That’s it, I’m done, I resign!” And he stomped off in fury, mounted his horse, and galloped away. Within three months, the British attacked what was left of the garrison, and the Americans’ aborted attempt to gain their independence and secure their rights for themselves and their posterity was quashed. History took a different, and very uncertain turn.

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In the year 431 B.C., at the conclusion of the first year of the Peloponnesian War, Pericles delivered an oration in honor of the Athenian war dead. What came to be known as Pericles’ Funeral Oration is a fine thing to contemplate on Memorial Day, and I highly recommend it. I first read Thucydides’ account […]

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A news item about the passing of another member of The Greatest Generation (have a tissue handy): http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/05/27/memphis-belle-gunner-revisits-england-dies-during-final-mission.html?intcmp=hplnws More

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. For Me, This Is Veterans Day

 

I try to be conscientious. I do. But I am aware that I am a creature driven by ego, by pride, by grasping, by the inward “I.” I know my failings, and by knowing them I can work to address them before those failings become the burden of others.

To be honest, it can be hard work. It’s so much easier just to be numb to what other people are dealing with in this life than it is to empathize with them and actively pursue the path of compassion. Part of this has to with ego — “I got my own stuff going on, man. Ain’t nobody got time for that” — but that’s only part of it. The real work is overcoming the natural human reticence for active empathy; it’s overcoming the fear of pain. It hurts to feel so much compassion, so much love, for a stranger that you would take their pain on you if you could. It’s so much easier to just be a jerk.

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I trust that it’s OK here at Ricochet to sing the praises of our children. I want to share what my eldest son did yesterday on Memorial Day. My oldest is a 20-year-old Lance Corporal in the Marine Reserves. Yesterday morning he reported for a Memorial Day formation. He then volunteered to drive in the […]

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I wrote this about a year ago and this year posted in on Facebook. I got a lot of comments from my hometown folks that remember the story. This is about an Airman from fly-over country in Wyoming. Lt. Jack E. Shively Thank you for your service. RIP   More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. “The Highlight of My Life Was Serving My Country”

 

For five of the best minutes you’re likely to spend anytime soon, watch this interview with Jerry Yellen, who flew P-51 Mustangs off Iwo Jima in the last days of the Second World War. He speaks here from that speck of an island where so many of his countrymen lost their lives in the great struggle. Among other remarkable observations, Yellen speaks of his wingman, who was killed over Japan during the last combat mission of the war.

On Monday, I took my daughter to a Memorial Day observance at a cemetery in Westlake Village, California, where we were honored to meet a man who parachuted into France as a “pathfinder” ahead of the D-Day invasion. Try to imagine it: you’re 18 or 19 years old, and in the dead of night you’re jumping out of an airplane into a countryside infested with enemy soldiers.

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I believe I posted this last year, but I think it wouldn’t hurt to read it again (my eyes can’t stay dry when I read it). I’ve seen this poem attributed to everyone from a grizzled old veteran to a high school teenager. As far as I know, the author is anonymous. There are several […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Moms and Memorial Day

 

shutterstock_59235178(A few years ago, my local American Legion Post asked me to give a speech from a civilian’s point of view regarding Memorial Day. This post is adapted from that talk.)

It was 3 am. I awoke to the screams from the bedroom below. I crept down, fearful that if I woke my grandmother she might have a heart attack. She was thrashing in agony. I had to wake her from the nightmare. She was disoriented. There was a wild look in her eyes. Then she started to cry.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Rolling with the Thunder

 

imageAnd here I thought this piece on Rolling Thunder would be a difficult one to write. After a phenomenal escort by upwards of a hundred motorcycles, two fire trucks, and a special response vehicle Saturday, which ushered in six Ride of Pride trucks to a veteran’s observance, I thought there would be too many events this weekend to synthesize into a coherent essay. Then there were the two young children who stood and saluted the bikes and trucks as we rolled into the parking lot.

And let’s not forget the Mastery Gunnery Sergeant who led the assemblage in prayer before yesterday’s lunch. Or the 6’5″ gentleman they call Mongo, who is in reality a retired Command Sergeant Major, with seven combat tours and multiple Purple Hearts to his significant and eternal credit. A man large enough to command his own zip code, and yet humble, gentle and unassuming enough to befriend the most sour disposition.

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Post your Memorial Day-related poems or links to poems appropriate to the day here. Here is one of mine. It is actually from an upcoming science-fiction book and presented as written by one of the characters, but it is appropriate to the day: The Flowers of France More

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Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (quoting Shakespeare): “What a piece of work is man, in form and movement how express and admirable. In action how like an angel.” Sergeant Buster Kilrain: Well, if he’s an angel, all right then. But he damn well must be a killer angel. – Gettysburg (1993) More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Dave Carter for Rolling Thunder

 

Ricochet’s own road warrior, Dave Carter, has his hands full this weekend paying tribute to those who have served their country in uniform. Dave’s so busy that he can’t post himself, but this morning he sent us this remarkable photograph — the one and only time that all seven of the “Ride of Pride” trucks (one of which, of course, is driven by Dave himself) were gathered together:

RideofPride

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. . .and if so, what should I do about it this year? More

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On Memorial Day There are war monuments all across America. I’ve seen many of them. I make a point to look at them. The great monuments to the horse artillery that stand in front of the Capitol building in Washington show the energy and determination of the men in action. Some monuments are on the […]

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