Lest we forget–Memorial Day 2017

Guest contribution by our very own poet laureate, Captain George S. Harris:

 

LEST WE FORGET-MEMORIAL DAY 2017

It is just a few days past the day our own Civil War ended on May 9,1865-151 years ago.  On that day, two great armies and two great leaders met at Appomattox, Virginia to begin the process of bringing our nation back together again. They were there to salve the wounds that four years of war had inflicted on its participants.  Some 640,000 men, 2% of our population, were lost; the worst war we have ever been engaged in.  A war that saw fathers against sons and brothers against brothers in a fight to the death.  It was the hope of these two great leaders, General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee, that at last we would once again seek the path to the “perfect union” our founders sought some seventy-eight years earlier during several muggy weeks in the spring and fall of 1787 in Phildelphia.

Some who read this may remember when Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day.  It is a day set aside to decorate the graves of those military folks who lost their lives in service to our Nation.  “Decoration Day or, if you prefer, Memorial Day, began shortly after our Civil War. There are several claims as to just when it began but decorating the graves of warriors has been around for many decades or perhaps centuries.

More than a million Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice and almost all of them in two wars-our own Civil War and World War II.  While we are now engaged in the longest war we have ever known, there are fewer deaths but many more have sustained what are often euphemistically referred to as “life alternating injuries”.  These injuries run from simple wounds to multiple limb loss, paralysis, traumatic brain injury and what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This latter disorder has had many names in the past but it ultimately means the terrible impact war has on the minds and souls of our military personnel.

No one goes to war who doesn’t come back changed.  It is not always easily recognized but for me and others who read these words, we know because we live with it every day of our lives.  This is not some made up psycho-babble, it is a real, palpable thing.  Most of us continue to live and work and carry out normal lives but others do not even to the point of destroying themselves by suicide.

We have to ask ourselves, “Will the day ever come when we will no longer have any new graves to decorate on Memorial Day?  When will we have peace?” In a speech at American University on June 10, 1963, only a few months before his death by assassination, President John F. Kennedy said this about peace.

“I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women–not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”

This Memorial Day, more than 1,000 soldiers will place flags at more than 300,000 graves in the annual “Flags In” ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.  Lest we forget, this is the price of freedom for our great Nation.

 

God bless all those who have gone before and God bless the Untied States of America on this Memorial Day.

“Hymn to the Fallen” by John Williams featured.

More than a name on a wall

“Lord my boy was special and he meant so much to me…”
Those words are probably in the heart of every parent who has lost a child to the ravages of war.

This song is special to me because it was co-written by my classmate and friend, John Rimel.    (Jimmy Fortune was the other co-writer,)   The song also reminds me of a  special Veterans Day I spent with someone’s mother from the midwest who had come to D. C.  to visit the wall.  She had come  to find the name of her only son who died in the Vietnam on his 19th birthday.  The woman had never been to the Wall before and I doubt if she ever went back.  I felt honored to have spoken with her for about a half hour that day.

My generation is etched all over that wall.  There are over 50,000 names on that Wall.  I can’t help but feel that our country wasted the lives of those young men.  It’s probably time for us to start paying more attention to the Vietnam veterans.   They are starting to die off– some due to old age, some to disease, and some because of war inflicted ailments that are killing off those men in greater numbers than should be happening.  I have two friends who have lost their husbands because of exposure to agent orange.  How long were we told that agent orange was harmless?

This Memorial Day I would like highlight the memory of Charlie Milton, another classmate, who died in Vietnam at age 19.  You know, that’s just too damn young to die.

Again the motor cycles will roar and Rolling Thunder will make its way into town to note that some of those POWs never came home.  No one knows what became of them.  Rolling Thunder also pays tribute to the dead.  My generation is loud.  Rolling Thunder is no exception.

I find it difficult to go to the Wall.  If I am in a memorial kind of mood, I always choose the World War II memorial.  It makes sense to me.  Vietnam doesn’t.  It’s also a beautiful memorial.  It’s grand.  It’s shining and it took far too long to be built.  Soon we won’t see any veterans of that war.   They are fading away.  My own father would be 100 this September if he was still alive.  He served in WWII.

If you have a friend or love one killed in combat, please feel free to pay tribute to them here.

 

John McCain’s smack-down on Sean Spicer

 

Washingtonpost.com:

Donald Trump took on Sen. John McCain’s status as a war hero and won the GOP nomination anyway.

Sean Spicer took on John McCain’s expertise on military matters and got this:

The White House press secretary took an extraordinary position Wednesday, saying anyone who questioned the success of the raid in Yemen that led to the death of a Navy SEAL was doing a disservice to the SEAL’s memory. The target was McCain.

Then NBC News tracked down McCain (R-Ariz.) to get his response to Spicer. And it was something.

“Many years ago when I was imprisoned in North Vietnam, there was an attempt to rescue the POWs,” McCain began, mentioning details of his biography that everyone knows but McCain included for emphasis.

He continued: “Unfortunately, the prison had been evacuated. But the brave men who took on that mission and risked their lives in an effort to rescue us prisoners of war were genuine American heroes. Because the mission failed did not in any way diminish their courage and willingness to help their fellow Americans who were held captive. Mr. Spicer should know that story.”

McCain then walked away, punctuating the comment.

Senator McCain–you go, guy!  Despite what Trump says, John McCain is a war hero.  Unlike Trump, he does know quite a bit about war and military raids.  He is certainly not someone that either Trump or Spicer should blow off.

The arrogance and stupidity are simply amazing.

Pearl Harbor: 75th Anniversary

After 9-11, I asked my mother how it was different from Pearl Harbor and if she knew at the time how Pearl Harbor was going to affect all of them. She said on that Sunday afternoon, none of them had any idea just how life-altering the attack on Pearl Harbor would be on their lives. Most people had never heard of Pearl Harbor.

“Pearl Harbor” would soon be a household word in every American home.  Yes, it was life-altering for just about everyone in the world at that time and for as much of the future as most of us can imagine.

75 years ago seems like ancient history to many people.  To put some of the passage of time into perspective, Pearl Harbor happened 80 years after the start of the Civil War.  Queen Elizabeth was a young woman driving an ambulance for her country.  She was still a princess.  My mother was going to marry my father in 6 months.  My father would enlist a year to the day after Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor will always be remembered and will always be a solemn day for America.

More military medical cover-up

 

Nytimes.com:

Alarms sounded on United States Air Force bases in Spain and officers began packing all the low-ranking troops they could grab onto buses for a secret mission. There were cooks, grocery clerks and even musicians from the Air Force band.

It was a late winter night in 1966 and a fully loaded B-52 bomber on a Cold War nuclear patrol had collided with a refueling jet high over the Spanish coast, freeing four hydrogen bombs that went tumbling toward a farming village called Palomares, a patchwork of small fields and tile-roofed white houses in an out-of-the-way corner of Spain’s rugged southern coast that had changed little since Roman times.

It was one of the biggest nuclear accidents in history, and the United States wanted it cleaned up quickly and quietly. But if the men getting onto buses were told anything about the Air Force’s plan for them to clean up spilled radioactive material, it was usually, “Don’t worry.”

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Captain George S. Harris: Memorial Day 2016

memorial-day-banners-2016-signs-images-posters

Captain George Harris:  Memorial Day 2016

As Memorial Day approaches once again, I have been thinking about it more and more.  Perhaps it is because I have been reading more books about the war, the latest being “With the Old Breed” by E.B. Sledge who was a Marine mortar man In K Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division during the battles of Pelilieu and Okinawa.

As we know, Memorial Day, is a day when we, as Nation, remember those who died in the service of our Nation.  Those of us of a “certain age” remember this day as Decoration Day, which was established shortly after the Civil War.  And we have many Americans to remember because more than a million Americans have died in all the wars we have fought from the Revolutionary War to our present 15 year war in the Middle East.

Some 2,400 years ago, Plato said, “The dead have seen the end of war.”  They lie silently in military cemeteries all over our Nation from our National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia to cemeteries in every state of the union and in cemeteries overseas.  These cemeteries bear  witness to the cost of war.  Headstones and monuments, including our Tomb of the Unknowns, stand as silent sentries over those who have given the last full measure of devotion.

But what of those who have given less that the last full measure?  In the last 15 years, more than a million young men and women have had their lives altered forever.  Some have had “million dollar wounds” but many have lost one or more limbs while others have suffered traumatic brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  Across our nation, 22 veterans die by their own hand every day.  That’s one every 65 minutes.  And our Veterans Administration health care system is overwhelmed.  Just as we owe those who have fallen for their sacrifice, we also owe those remain among us.

So today, when you pause to remember those who have died in the service of our Nation, I ask that you take a few moments to remember those who served and came home to live among us to remind us that, as John Steinbeck said, “All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.

Thank you, George, for your words of honor again this year.  For those who don’t know, George Harris is our honorary poet laureate of Moonhowlings.  George began his military career  as a young kid, age 18, in the Navy.  He served as a corpsman in Korea and in Vietnam.  He has certainly seen more than his fair share of mayhem and destruction of the human soul.

Thanks again, George, for guiding us in the right direction on this day.

Rating_Badge_HM

More than a Name on a Wall

All our fallen warriors are important.  However, some hold a special place in our hearts, as individuals.  We cherish them not just for who they are but for their families and friends.

This past year I had my XX high school reunion and touched base with many old friends from Charlottesville.  I talked with Brenda, a high school friend.  We somehow got on the subject of Charlie Milton, who was killed in Vietnam.  Charlie was a high school chum of mine and a little more than that to her.  We both had a good cry and promised to go to The Wall together.  I had already located Charlie a number of years ago.  It still breaks my heart.

Did I mention that this song in the video, was written by another classmate, John Rimel.  He and Jimmy Fortune co-wrote More than a Name on a Wall together.  One of their friends had been killed in Vietnam.  It was so good to see John and he had changed so much.  He was tall, distinguished, and still so very talented.

As I close, I think of my friend Mark and his wife who lost their son in Iraq.  Colin was certainly more than a name on a wall to his family and friends.

Maybe its time for us as a nation to start thinking about the cost of war in human terms.   I have gotten so I can barely stand to go to The Wall any more.  That’s my generation.   My mother felt that way about the WWII Memorial.  She never went.  Perhaps neither of us has the stomach for war.

 

Tribute: Some Gave All

Some have given all since before we even were a country.  There have been approximately 1.1 million American casualties in all our wars.

Those numbers do not reflect the number of Americans who have been maimed by war.

death

Something to consider:

When men talk about war, the stories and terminology vary – it’s this battle, these weapons, this terrain. But no matter where you go in the world, women use the same language to speak of war. They speak of fire, they speak of death, and they speak of starvation.

Abigail Disney

 

Memorial Day Weekend, 2016: A Tribute to Warriors

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Moonhowlings.net will pay tribute to those who have fallen. I hope you will drop by to help us remember those who gave all. On Memorial Day proper, Monday, George Harris will share his thoughts with us.

So, as we move into the holiday weekend, let’s remember that many, many warriors have not returned and that some who have will never be as they were.

Freedom has a huge price tag.

If you see a vet, I have never met one yet who doesn’t beam when you thank them for their service.  Rolling Thunder is usually a big giveaway.

Thanks to all our special vets here at Moonhowlings!  Thanks for your service!

Kelly**, George, Steve, BS, Moe, Starry,  Ivan, Cargo….Roll call!  Who have I left out?

 

 

** a special shout out!!!!

Israeli killer goes to prison for life

ben david

Washingtonpost.com:

 The ringleader of a group that kidnapped and burned alive a Palestinian teenager two years ago — a revenge killing that shocked many here because of its savagery — was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison plus 20 years.

Yosef Haim Ben-David was convicted of murder and kidnapping last month. Ben-David, 32, the owner of an eyewear shop in Jerusalem, lived in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. He is married with a young daughter and is the son of an ultra-
Orthodox rabbi.

The killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir in 2014 was part of a summer of violence that contributed to the war between Israel and the Islamist militant movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Before his sentence was read in court Tuesday evening, Ben-David made a brief statement. “I apologize for what happened,” he said. “I ask forgiveness of the family for all that happened.”

Ben-David said he had served as a volunteer for one of the emergency response teams that assist ambulance crews at the scenes of accidents and attacks. “I attended to both Jewish and Arab bodies,” he said. “I always considered the human form and respect for the dead to be holy.”

Good.  Ben-David did a horrible, evil deed.  His country, Israel,  found him, tried him,  found him guilty and sentenced him to prison for killing a Palestinian youth.   He is getting what he deserves.   Can we safely assume that when Palestinians  kill Jews their country will hunt them down, prosecute and sentence them to prison with equal vigor?  That doesn’t seem to be happening.

 

RIP, Joe Medicine Crow

Washingtonpost.com:

According to Crow tradition, a man must fulfill certain requirements to become chief of the tribe: command a war party successfully, enter an enemy camp at night and steal a horse, wrestle a weapon away from his enemy and touch the first enemy fallen, without killing him.

Joe Medicine Crow was the last person to meet that code, though far from the windswept plains where his ancestors conceived it. During World War II, when he was a scout for the 103rd Infantry in Europe, he strode into battle wearing war paint beneath his uniform and a yellow eagle feather inside his helmet. So armed, he led a mission through German lines to procure ammunition. He helped capture a German village and disarmed — but didn’t kill — an enemy soldier. And, in the minutes before a planned attack, he set off a stampede of 50 horses from a Nazi stable, singing a traditional Crow honor song as he rode away.

“I never got a scratch,” he recalled to the Billings Gazette decades later.

Medicine Crow died Sunday at 102, according to the Gazette. He was the Crow’s last war chief, the sole surviving link to a long military tradition. But he was also an activist, an author, a Medal of Freedom recipient and a vital chronicler of the history of his tribe.

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Millennial commitment to fighting ISIS reverses with personal involvement

Boots on the Ground

NPR.org:

In the wake of the Paris attacks, a majority of young Americans support sending U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS, according to a wide-ranging new poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics.

The institute has asked millennials about the idea of American boots on the ground at three different times this year, and the survey results have fluctuated somewhat, but there seems to be a “hardening of support.”

In this most recent survey, 60 percent of the 18- to 29-year-olds polled say they support committing U.S. combat troops to fight ISIS. But an almost equal number (62 percent) say they wouldn’t want to personally join the fight, even if the U.S. needed additional troops.

The disconnect in joining the fight comes down to how millennials feel about the government writ large, according to Harvard IOP Polling Director John Della Volpe.

“I’m reminded of the significant degree of distrust that this generation has about all things related to government,” said Della Volpe. “And I believe if young people had a better relationship with government … they’d be more open to serving.”

Yesterday, Wolve slapped down information on this subject–that millennials by about a 60-40  spread wanted the US to commit troops to combatting ISIS.  That seemed strange coming from young people.   Millennials make up more than 1 in 3 workers in the US work force and are defined as having ages ranging from 18 to 34 in 2015.

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A date that will live in infamy: Remembering Pearl Harbor

 

74 years ago today.  On the east coast, people were just kicking back, relaxing on a Sunday afternoon.

I once asked my mother what she thought when she heard it. She told me that most of them didn’t know anything about Pearl Harbor. She also said she had no idea that Sunday afternoon on December 7, 1941, how drastically all their lives would be affected.

That date will live in infamy, as long as one person who knew someone of that era lives. After that, who knows. At the time, the attack was seen as a dastardly, cowardly act. It was and should still be seen that way.

Most of those who fought at Pearl Harbor that day are dead or they are very old men. However, a tremendous rallying call went out that day that called millions of young men to come serve their country and defeat the “Japs.” (forgive me, that was the expression for the enemy in those days)

Pearl Harbor is where it all began and it had a life altering affect on all of us who came afterwards. Pearl Harbor etched its mark in what it really means to be an American.

Your thoughts on this day?

Freedom: what if…

american nazi

What if WWII had not been won by the allies?   Amazon prime tickles our imagination in a great series called “The Man in the High Castle.”  Season one is on Amazon prime now and I am addicted to the show.  I can’t come up for air.  I am watching the Tech game and watching and listening to “The Man in the High Castle.”  I am on episode 7.

What really comes to mind is freedom and how fragile freedom really is.  I can’t possibly not think about the sacrifices my parents’ generation made to guarantee our freedom.

This series really gives a good picture of how it all could have been.  What if America were divided into 2 nations?  What if Japan and Germany ruled?  How would our lives be different today, especially under the WWII regimes?

Addendum:  I am finished the series.  What a scary show.  Please note, the flag is from the series, not from me.

The point of the post, which obviously is not being picked up, is that our freedom is very fragile and often taken for granted by Americans–those of us who have it.  Were it not for the sacrifices of many, especially from the Greatest Generation, we would not have our freedom.  “The Man in the High Castle” is just one story of what our lives might be like were it not for those from the Greatest Generation.