Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day is there for a reason

"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
--John 15:13

One of my regular beefs, which my wife and kids have long since tired of hearing, is this:

Holidays like Memorial Day and Veteran's Day are there for a reason, and it's not just a day off school/work, or an occasion to picnic. I always felt that my kids' schools didn't do a good job of teaching the history of the holiday, or imparting the proper sense of respect. Memorial Day, in particular, gets watered down into a broad, hazy day of remembrance. Kids need to understand, Memorial Day is there explicitly to honor war dead.

We both served in the Illinois Army National Guard, in the 108th Medical Battalion, back in the mid-80's. We were both 91-B, Combat Medical Specialists. Miz Bubs was in the 708 Ambulance Company, and I was in the 508 Clearing Company. We were in at a good time: we were discharged in February 1989, well ahead of the first Gulf War. I figure that any time someone can spend 6 years in service to his country and not get shot at, it's lucky.

So far, since our invasion of Iraq, 14 Guard soldiers from Illinois were not as lucky as I was, and have died in the service of our country. The most recent reports show that three more US soldiers died on May 25. They are:

PFC Caleb A. Lufkin

Specialist Robert E. Blair

Captain Douglas A. DiCenzo

So far, in Iraq, 2,464 US military service men and women have died.

I'll fight the urge to make an angry political statement here, and just ask that anyone who reads this spend a quiet moment, or say a short prayer, for the families and friends of the people who've given their lives for us.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Dad. I actually didn't know what Memorial Day was about. I will say a prayer today.

Dub Martin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dub Martin said...

Down Where The River Bends

It's hard to keep tears out of my eyes
For this may be our last goodbye
Your country calls you to defend this land
You'll do your part just like a man

Down where the river bends
With God's help we'll meet again
Under that same old sycamore tree
Proud of each other in the land of the free

I'll go down to the ocean blue
Just as close as I can get to you
This ocean wide might keep us apart
But it won't keep you dear out of my heart


If the worst should happen and the poppies should wave
Over your far distant, lonely grave
All the rest of my life I'll spend in prayer
I'll meet you in heaven there's no war there


Bubs said...

Beautiful, thanks. I almost posted In Flanders Fields:

N FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Bubs said...

Oh, and the other song I was thinking about, of course, was "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda"

Now when I was a young man I carried me pack
And I lived the free life of the rover.
From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback,
Well, I waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in 1915, my country said, "Son,
It's time you stop ramblin', there's work to be done."
So they gave me a tin hat, and they gave me a gun,
And they marched me away to the war.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda,"
As the ship pulled away from the quay,
And amidst all the cheers, the flag waving, and tears,
We sailed off for Gallipoli.

And how well I remember that terrible day,
How our blood stained the sand and the water;
And of how in that hell that they call Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk, he was waitin', he primed himself well;
He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shell --
And in five minutes flat, he'd blown us all to hell,
Nearly blew us right back to Australia.

But the band played "Waltzing Matilda,"
When we stopped to bury our slain,
Well, we buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs,
Then we started all over again.

And those that were left, well, we tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire.
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
Though around me the corpses piled higher.
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
And when I woke up in me hospital bed
And saw what it had done, well, I wished I was dead --
Never knew there was worse things than dying.

For I'll go no more "Waltzing Matilda,"
All around the green bush far and free --
To hump tents and pegs, a man needs both legs,
No more "Waltzing Matilda" for me.

So they gathered the crippled, the wounded, the maimed,
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane,
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla.
And as our ship sailed into Circular Quay,
I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me,
To grieve, to mourn and to pity.

But the band played "Waltzing Matilda,"
As they carried us down the gangway,
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared,
Then they turned all their faces away.

And so now every April, I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march,
Reviving old dreams of past glory,
And the old men march slowly, all bones stiff and sore,
They're tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask "What are they marching for?"
And I ask meself the same question.

But the band plays "Waltzing Matilda,"
And the old men still answer the call,
But as year follows year, more old men disappear
Someday, no one will march there at all.

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda.
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong,
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?