Monday, May 27, 2013

Thoughts on Memorial Day

The ice cream is churning away in the ice cream maker, the corn has been shucked, the salsa made, and the beverages are on ice in the vintage Coca-Cola cooler.  But before the celebrating and feasting begin I want to do some remembering and expressing of gratitude.  We celebrate the courage, honor and personal sacrifice of each and every soldier who helped forge our great nation and protects it so that I may continue living this life that I have become accustomed to, this life so full of liberty.  We are so very thankful for all that have come before us and all that are yet to come who will put it all on the line for their country and its citizenry.  We would also like to express our gratitude to the family members of our soldiers.  We are familiar with the sacrifice of the soldiers family with grandparents losing a son and a sister losing a brother.  And because our own children have sacrificed so much time with their father so that he may serve.  We remember.  We are thankful.  And we celebrate your contribution to this great nation.
We began our day with a visit to the National Cemetery, a tradition for our family.

Although we have no personal familial connections with anyone buried at this cemetery we place flowers on the graves of soldiers.
 We seek to pay our respects to all of those who have served our nation by placing, with gratitude-filled hearts, flowers on these graves.
We stroll amongst the headstones drawn to certain ones for untold reasons.  
 We read their headstones and wonder about their lives and their deaths.
This headstone has two men listed, different last names for both, as staff sergeants with a single date of death - what is the story behind their lives and their deaths that lead them to be buried together in a single grave?
Who is buried here, what mission was he on and what did he contribute?
Over and over again we wonder who is buried here and there and over there too and we ponder how difficult it might be for a family to not even know where their loved ones final resting place is.
We praise one for having received the Good Conduct Medal and wonder about the man and his character.
We once again give special regard to each of the five Buffalo soldiers buried in our national cemetery.  We yearn to know their personal stories and can only imagine as we discuss the known deeds of other such soldiers.
Our wanderings and wonderings through the cemetery prompt us to learn more - what is the Signal Corps.?  (We learned that the Signal Corps. manages communications for the armed forces.  It was established in the 1860's.  During the Civil War the Army communicated through visual communications, flags during the day and torches at night; this system was called "wig-wag."  During WWII this Signal Corps. soldier might have worn and operated a backpack radio or he might have taken part in making films to train, indoctrinate and entertain the American and Allied troops).
And we learn that Patrick H. Pentzer earned the Medal of Honor for being "Among the first to enter the enemy's entrenchments, he received the surrender of a Confederate general officer and his headquarters flag."
And we say, "Thank You!"

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