Memorial Day

SEAL who shot bin Laden: Don’t wish me a happy Memorial Day

Don’t wish me a happy Memorial Day. There is nothing happy about the loss of the brave men and women of our armed forces who died in combat defending America. Memorial Day is not a celebration. Memorial Day is a time for reflection, pause, remembrance and thanksgiving for patriots who gave up their own lives to protect the lives and freedom of us all – including the freedom of generations long gone and generations yet unborn. We owe the fallen a debt so enormous that it can never be repaid. Memorial Day is a time to honor the lives of those who would rather die than take a knee when our national anthem is played. But they will fight and die for the rights of those who kneel. This holiday is a time to think of young lives cut short, of wives and husbands turned into widows and widowers, of children growing up without a father or mother, of parents burying their children. Memorial Day is a time to think of might have beens that never were. Of brave Americans who put their country before themselves. Without these heroes, America would not be America. Unfortunately, for many Americans this solemn holiday might as well be called Summer Day – marking the unofficial start of the season of barbecues, days at the beach, time spent on baseball fields and golf courses, hiking and enjoying the great the outdoors. All those things are great – we all appreciate them and they are some of the best things in life. But Memorial Day is not Summer Day. Nor was the holiday created as a way to promote sales of cars, furniture or clothes. Another Memorial Day brings with it a whole lot more than the start of summer. Since last Memorial Day, grass is now growing above the final resting places of many young men and women whose lives were taken too soon while defending our country in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other far-off places many Americans have rarely heard of. When Army SGT La David Johnson, SSG Bryan Black, SFC Jeremiah Johnson and SSG Dustin Wright were killed last October in an ISIS ambush in Niger, many Americans asked: We have troops in Niger? These unknown soldiers lost their lives protecting you – every one of you reading these words. Think about this: Millions of high-school seniors are walking across auditorium stages this season, receiving their diplomas. Most will go on to college or jobs, but some will choose a career of military service, joining the second generation of American warriors fighting in the Global War on Terror – a war that began with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that took the lives of almost 3,000 people in our homeland. Most of these new recruits – who were not even born or who were just infants when the 9/11 attacks took place – will make it home just fine. But some will not. I pray that I am wrong, but the sad truth is that the number of American war dead on Memorial Day in 2019 will be higher than it is on this Memorial Day. On Memorial Day, I salute my brothers and sisters-in-arms who have served beside me in the War on Terror. My heart especially goes out to the families of those who did not return home. In fact, I think about all those who served and those who have given their lives fighting for America from our county’s earliest days in the Revolutionary War. They all have my gratitude. We think we are strong, but in war any of us can be turned into just a memory in an instant.

Indeed..  As someone who has been there and done that myself, in Afghanistan as a “field grade” Army Intelligence officer, I know all too well what Robert is talking about.  Thanks to former Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill, the man credited for killing Bin Laden, for his sobering thoughts on this Memorial Day.  I agree..  Please don’t wish me a “happy Memorial Day.”  For more of Robert’s op/ed, click on the text above.

Opinion: Memorial Day reminds us that our freedom didn’t come cheaply

For many Americans, the Memorial Day weekend means a backyard cookout with family and friends. Some head to the beach or to a neighborhood park. Others, recalling the meaning of the holiday itself, visit the graves of fallen soldiers, bearing flowers and wreaths. Some salute individuals they never met, while others mourn the loss of a personal hero. The list of possible activities could go on, but ask yourself: What do they all have in common? Simply this: It’s your decision how you mark Memorial Day. Because you are free. And if there’s one thing that Memorial Day reminds us, it’s that our freedom didn’t come cheaply. Many Americans gave what President Abraham Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion” so that liberty could continue to ring from, yes, sea to shining sea. It’s all too easy, especially for those of us blessed to have grown up in this great land, to take our liberty for granted. We forget that freedom isn’t free. It must be paid for, and not just once. Again and again, Americans have stepped forward in a moment of crisis and put their lives on the line. They fought in the American Revolution – both in the heat of summer and in the dead of winter, when snow blanketed the ground, supplies were low, and the outlook was bleak. Our patriots prevailed, but the struggle for freedom didn’t end there. It has played out on many other battlefields in the years since. Antietam and Gettysburg. Belleau Wood and Cantigny. Iwo Jima and the Bulge. Heartbreak Ridge and Hamburger Hill. Baghdad and Kabul. It’s their sacrifice we mark on Memorial Day. And while we feel so much sadness for their loss, I think there is something else we should consider when we recall those who fell in battle. It comes down, I believe, to what motivated those brave men and women to do what they did. Imagine walking towards danger and possible death when every fiber of your body is screaming at you to seek shelter. What makes you march toward the guns rather than flee from them? A soldier, it is said, fights not because he hates who is in front of him, but because he loves who is behind him. I think that’s what it all comes down to. Those we commemorate on Memorial Day fought for mothers and fathers. For sisters and brothers. For sons, daughters, comrades, and all others they held dear. They fought for our liberty and land, too, because they knew America is worth fighting for. And for the last 150 years, we have given them the honor they so richly deserve. On May 30, 1868, future president James A. Garfield spoke at Arlington Cemetery for the first national commemoration of what was then known as Decoration Day, and his words resonate to this day: “We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” We now live in an era marked by political division and social strife. Love of country is considered old-fashioned by some. So too are patriotism and virtue. But those who feel that way forget the liberty they enjoy to express such sentiments was won by patriots who felt very differently. And it is safeguarded today by service members who do so, too. Those brave men and women preserve the freedom we sometimes forget to appreciate. They do it for the love of their family, friends, and community. But they also do it for their devotion to each of us and the nation of which we are all a part. Their sacrifice and strength is what America has honored for a century and a half. And it is that which gives so much meaning to this Memorial Day.

Indeed..  Thanks to Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation, for that excellent piece.     🙂

Donald Trump’s Memorial Day Proclamation: ‘We Revere Those Who Have Died in Noble Service’

President Donald J. Trump issued a Memorial Day proclamation for all Americans to remember military heroes who lost their lives in the defense of freedom. “We remain duty bound to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf and to remember them with thankfulness and unwavering pride,” Trump wrote in the proclamation, setting May 28, 2018, as Memorial Day. The president also asked Americans to “unite in prayer for lasting peace in our troubled world so that future generations will enjoy the blessings of liberty and independence.” Click here to read the full proclamation released by the White House.

Memorial Day: 5 things you didn’t know about the holiday

Many Americans see Memorial Day as an opportunity to relax in the yard, gather with friends, or plan a weekend getaway — and it very much is. But at the same time, it’s important that we never lose sight of the day’s significance. With that in mind, here are five interesting things to consider while we’re gathering, celebrating, and paying respects the men and women who died serving this country. #1. We’re all aware that Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, but Congress has also established an exact minute of remembrance. The National Moment of Remembrance Act, which was adopted in December of 2000, encourages every citizen to pause each Memorial Day at 3:00 p.m. local time to remember the brave men and women who died serving this country. In addition to any federal observances, Major League Baseball games usually come to a stop during the Moment of Remembrance, and for the past several years, Amtrak engineers have taken up the practice of sounding their horns in unison at precisely 3:00 p.m. #2. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Memorial Day is celebrated in late May because that’s when flowers are likely to be blooming across the country. It was Union General John A. Logan who — after serving in the Mexican-American War and Civil War — proposed that Congress institute May 30th as Decoration Day (the predecessor to Memorial Day) to allow citizens to decorate the graves of deceased veterans with fresh flowers. (It’s also believed that Logan settled on the date because it wasn’t already the anniversary of any significant battles.) #3. The Ironton-Lawrence Memorial Day Parade in Ironton, Ohio, is recognized as the oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade in the nation, beginning all the way back in 1868. However, the oldest (and first) Memorial Day parade in the country was held a year earlier in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. (It’s also worth noting that both the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., and the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade in Queens, N.Y., bill themselves as the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation.) #4. “Taps,” the bugle call typically performed at military funerals as well as the annual Memorial Day wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was actually adapted from a separate Civil War bugle call known as “Scott Tattoo,” which was used to signal lights out. The new melody later became the preferred accompaniment at military funerals after Captain John Tidball of the Union Army alert nearby Confederate troops to their location. #5. Despite rising gas prices, AAA estimates that 41.5 million people will be traveling on Memorial Day weekend, with 36.6 million of them traveling by car and clogging up the freeways. Leaving a little earlier on Thursday won’t help to ease drivers’ burdens, either: Transportation analysts working with AAA say drivers will be experiencing the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday and Friday, and “congestion across a greater number of days,” in general, “than in previous years.”

Gold Star Family Speaks Out After Meeting Trump at Arlington

President Donald Trump honored the families of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. Accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Trump walked among the white marble headstones and greeted Gold Star families, including Brittany Jacobs and her six-year-old son, Christian, who was dressed like a Marine. The boy’s father, Marine Sgt. Christopher Jacobs, died during a training accident in California in 2011. On “Fox & Friends” this morning, Brittany said Christian ran up to Trump and struck up a conversation. Christian asked if he wanted to see his father’s headstone and “meet my daddy,” and Trump accepted the invitation. Brittany said it was surreal to see her son talking to the president. “We didn’t expect it. We were hoping we’d get to see him there that day,” she said. “And it was just amazing.” Christian, who wants to be a Marine like his father, had one word to describe the experience: “Awesome.”

Agreed..  If you haven’t seen the photos from this little exchange, click on the text above and enjoy.  There is also an interview with Brittany and Jacob.    🙂

The Civil War General from Illinois Who Gave Us Memorial Day

Only three years after the Civil War, as our nation started upon its long road toward reconciliation, rebuilding, and healing, the wife of a union general noticed a touching scene of devotion in the South. She saw Confederate mothers, widows, and children coming together each year to place flowers and little flags at the graves of their loved ones who had fallen in battle. This general’s wife thought it was an edifying experience the whole country could emulate. Moved by the devotion she witnessed, Mary Simmerson Logan urged her husband, Illinois General John A. “Blackjack” Logan, to look into creating what was to become Memorial Day. So, at the urging of his wife, Logan became instrumental in creating Decoration Day, the celebration of the nation’s war dead that eventually became Memorial Day. Today, thanks to that gracious and energetic lady, America takes time each year to remember those who served and died for our country, and it is fitting that the holiday was born of both a re-united South and North after our bloodiest war. The man at the heart of the commemoration was a leader in his day but is now largely forgotten. General Logan was a Senator from Illinois and eventually became the candidate for Vice President on the 1884 Republican ticket, losing to Grover Cleveland and another Illinoisan, Vice President Adlai Stevenson. Perhaps no other Federal Army general was as suited as Logan to be the one to launch Decoration Day. Certainly, Logan was a state politician, a political general who successfully transitioned to federal service and continued to hold rank after the war, and also his party’s vice presidential nominee. What many don’t know is that “Blackjack” Logan was aiming to be a Confederate general when the war first started. Thus his sympathies for both sides make him a particularly good fit for the father of Decoration Day. Logan was born in February of 1826 in Murphysboro, Illinois, an area rich with émigrés from Kentucky. His home was near the river bottoms once called “Little Egypt.” The area was a hotbed of Southern sympathy during the early days of the civil war. The genus of the region’s nickname is not entirely known, but what is known is that a company of nearly 40 Illinois men from Williamson and Jackson Counties gathered together in 1861, crossed over into Kentucky, and joined the Confederate Army of Tennessee, becoming Company G of the 15th Tennessee Infantry. Heading up that company was one Captain Hilbert A. Cunningham. He led his men across the river to the Confederacy and served in the C.S. Army for nearly two years. Co. G has the distinction of being the only company of men from a northern state to fight as a group for the Confederacy. A small number of them fought throughout the war for the rebel forces. Captain Cunningham, though, was not one of those stalwarts, for in May of 1863 he quietly went AWOL from the Confederate army and ended up a captain on General John Logan’s staff. This sudden turn may not be so surprising, as Capt. Cunningham was Gen. Logan’s brother-in-law. What may be more surprising is that Logan himself was initially supposed to lead Co. G across the river and into the waiting arms of the Confederacy. Rumors from his family were that the Illinois politician had accepted a Colonel’s commission from the Southerons and intended to make his military mark under the banner of the Southern Cross. But ambition was greater than ideology, at least that early in the war, because Logan was casting a wide net for his officer’s commission and was able to cajole his way into General U.S. Grant’s favor. Logan was soon commissioned as Colonel of the 31st Illinois Infantry shortly after the Battle of Bull Run and so wore the blue for the whole of the war. Many in the 15th Tennessee held a grudge against Logan for the rest of their lives, feeling that he betrayed them for his personal ambitions.

Fascinating!!  While Memorial Day was yesterday, it doesn’t hurt to post such relevant, historical articles.  To read the general order that Logan issued in 1868, click on the text above.

President Trump gives Memorial Day Address at Arlington National Cemetery

President Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to perform one of the most solemn duties as commander-in-chief—laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The president gave his first Memorial Day address, after laying the wreath, like so many presidents before him, as part of the ceremony to remember, and honor, the men and women who died fighting for the United States of America. “Thank you for joining us as we honor the brave warriors who gave their lives for ours–Spending their last moments on this earth in defense of this great country and its people,” Trump began. “We only hope that every day we can prove worthy, not only of their sacrifice and service, but of the sacrifice made by their families and loved ones they left behind—special, special people.” Trump went on to honor Homeland Security Secretary Gen. John Kelly’s fallen son, Robert, and the Kelly family. “I especially want to extend our gratitude to Gen. Kelly for joining us today—an incredible man—I always call him general,” Trump said. “He understands more than most ever could, or ever will, the wounds and burdens of war.” Robert Kelly, 29, was killed in a roadside bomb blast in 2010 during a foot patrol in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. Trump added: “To the entire Kelly family, today, 300 million American hearts are joined together with you. We grieve with you. We honor you and we pledge to you that we will always remember Robert and what he did for us.” Trump honored Gold Star families calling their fallen loved ones “angels sent to us by God,” in his first public address since returning from his first trip overseas as commander-in-chief. “They all share one title in common—and that is the title of ‘hero’—real heroes,” Trump said. “Though they were only here for a brief time before God called them home, their legacy will endure forever.” Trump went on to honor former Sen. Bob Dole and his wife, former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, and other Gold Star families and service men and women in the audience. “While we cannot know the extent of your pain, what we do know is that our gratitude to them and to you is boundless and undying—will always be there, Thank you,” Trump said. “Their stories are now woven into the soul of our nation, into the stars and stripes on our flag, and into the beating hearts of our great, great people.” Vice President Mike Pence attended the ceremony, along with Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis, and Homeland Security Secretary Gen. John Kelly, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.