Tag: Memorial Day

In Memoriam: Petty Officer Joseph Ashley, MM2

 
USS San Francisco

The USS San Francisco in drydock, 2005, with MM2 Joseph Ashley.

The USS San Francisco left its port in Guam for a much-anticipated cruise to Australia. Following months of boring repairs, the crew was ready for the 3,000-mile trip and already planning what to do in Brisbane once they arrived. Since 2002, the Los Angeles-class nuclear attack sub had been stationed on the western Pacific island allowing more frequent trips to foreign ports instead of its less eventful patrols around Pearl Harbor.

Member Post

 

This Memorial Day, please take a brief moment to read and consider a great American poem, Grass by Carl Sandburg. With an absolute economy of words, Sandburg evokes the horrible sacrifice of war, the healing nature of time, and the frailty of human memory. It is these things, among others, which make the observation of […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

When my children were younger, they slept comfortably in their beds because violent men went halfway around the world and slept in uncomfortable places, or went without sleep entirely, as they pursued their missions. Many now sleep an eternal rest. If you are among those who serve or served to protect our country, I thank […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

A “What If” Memorial Day

 
shutterstock_238056778

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…?”

Member Post

 

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 […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

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.

Member Post

 

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 […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

“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.

Member Post

 

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 […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

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.

She gasped for air as she told me this was the same date that the lady down her street in Sacramento had received the news that her boy had been killed in action. “That poor, poor woman,” Beeb sobbed.

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.

Then came the assemblage at the hotel Sunday morning as another massive group of motorcycles prepared to escort us to the Pentagon. At dawn the very ground seemed to rumble as the bikes roared to life and the voice of the formation’s leader was heard on our radios saying, “Good morning boys and girls!” It seemed for a short while that we had cheated time itself while we made our way, as if on patrol, to the Pentagon, the chatter on the radio brimming with military terms and precision. We were young again, and on a mission.