Remembering Memorial Day  

Nightguy_1961 56M
3324 posts
5/23/2006 8:15 pm

Last Read:
5/28/2006 9:47 pm

Remembering Memorial Day

This weekend is the US holiday marking Memorial Day, where we honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and its people. These are some scenes that I recall from days past:

They were standing in front of Wal-Mart, as they do every Memorial Day and every Veteran's Day. The old gentlemen with their VFW hats on, handing out the little red poppies to those passing by, trying to get money to help fellow veterans. There were a few teenagers hanging around, not really causing trouble, but just making fun of the elderly men with their hats full of buttons.

One gentleman in particular stood out, even though he was the smallest of the group. Slightly stooped over, he stood proud. He did not bother anyone, just handed them a poppy and said, "God bless you", never once asking for money, but people would drop money in his hand.

A roar of engines got everyone's attention; a few bikers were pulling in, coming to get beer for the holiday. As they drew near, the old man stood there and handed them some poppies. The bikers stopped and looked at the old man. On his VFW hat was the phrase, "The Battlin' Bastards of Bataan". Under that was the phrase "Death March Survivor". This quiet gentleman was a survivor of one of the most brutal and most heinous acts in WWII, the Bataan Death March; when thousands of POWs were forced marched hundreds of miles with little rest and little food or water...many didn't make it.

The bikers didn't say a word; they came to attention and gave the old man a salute. They were Nam vets, and they recognized a fellow soul in the old man. One of the bikers wept as he told the gentleman that his uncle had been on the Death March...and didn't make it. The old man put his arm around him and said gently, "It's okay son, a lot of boys went to a better place from that hellhole".

The rest of the bikers stared down the teenagers, one telling them, "Boy, you should kiss the ground this man walks...he survived hell so you wouldn't have to!"


**********


Sitting in a crowded truck stop restaurant one Memorial Day weekend after Desert Storm, there was hardly a seat to be found. Talk about noisy...people talking non-stop about where they were going, when they'd get there, and the like.

Suddenly, two Marines came in to get breakfast. They were in their dress blue uniforms, looking sharp and walking tall, obviously heading to some ceremony marking the holiday. The restaurant fell silent as these young warriors came in and stood waiting for a table.

Suddenly, a big trucker stood up and started clapping. Then another...and another...and another, until the entire restaurant was on their feet applauding these two young men, who were looking around, wondering what the fuss was about. The Marines were offered several tables to sit at, because most of the truckers were ex military and just wanted to look out for a fellow warrior.

The Marines declined the offers to have their meals paid for by the truckers, but the manager of the restaurant told them flat out that whatever they got was on the house. Pointing at an old picture of himself on the wall: a much younger man with a devil may care grin while sitting on the beach at Iwo Jima in Marine fatigues, the manager said only two words to the Marines,

"Semper Fi"


**********


If you want to see how moving Memorial Day can be, go to Washington this weekend and visit the Wall. Even though it is outdoors, there is a silent reverence that is usually seen in cathedrals. People touch the Wall, as if to touch those that didn't come home from Vietnam. Gifts and mementoes are left at the wall. Every night, the Park Rangers gently collect all the items left behind and lock them away. Flowers, pictures, letters; supposedly, there was a Congressional Medal of Honor left behind with a note that said, "You deserve this...not me". The custodians say they try not to look at the words left behind, because it gets too emotional, like one who leaves a letter every year, telling some long lost father how his grandkids are doing and how proud he would be of them.

If you go to the Wall, you'll never walk away the same person.

**********


That's what Memorial Day is...not just a vacation or a reason to party or time off from work...though there's nothing wrong with a good party at all.

Just remember the reason for this weekend.

Lest we forget...

©NG61 2006



ohcurious14 60M  
1684 posts
5/23/2006 8:49 pm

Very touching NG.It's great to hear these stories. Though most are sad, they are in the same breath uplifting, for they are reminders of the sacrafices our servemen made so as you said others don't have to go thru hell. A Memorial Day salute from me to all our sevicemen abroad and here at home. God Bless You All.

And yes you have my permission. Thank-you and i am truly honored.


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 10:54 pm:
Thanks OC....done and done.....

micahbiguns 52M

5/23/2006 8:54 pm

Excellent post Thank you for reminding us of others sacrifices. It is so easy to forget what others have done for us. Deeply moved.... remembering.....


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 10:57 pm:
After hearing a co worker pitch a bitch about how her weekend plans were screwed up because she had to work 4 hours Friday night, the idea of sacrifice kind of took root in my mind......hence the post....

Glad you like it.....thanks...

LilSquirt_4mfm 68M/69F
3394 posts
5/23/2006 9:06 pm


you said it all so well .... i wont try to add anything ... just say that you said it all so well!!!

LilJessicaSQuirt


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 10:57 pm:
Thank you...and welcome to the Fortress.....

waerlookin4fun 51M/47F

5/23/2006 9:09 pm

NG this post brought me to tears....because the one man in my life growing up who made me feel safe was my grandfather who got stuck behind enemy lines in WW two. He did finally make it safely back. He had a heart attack on Thanksgiving 1994 and I had to do the cpr. He passed away later that night. At his funeral were all the men he served with and they had nothing but good things to say about him. I cried when they played Taps and the only other thing I remember is one of the veterans coming to me to give me a shell from the 21 gun salute.

Every Memorial Day when I see those veterans standing in front of stores I give my child money and send him over to them. I want to teach my child respect for those that are responsible for our gift of freedom. So from me to all of the veterans out there this Memorial Day......I salute you and thank you


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 10:58 pm:
I try to give to these men every chance I can...thank you.....

rm_Kissmystuff 62F
1435 posts
5/23/2006 9:19 pm

Thank you for these stories. I think all too often we forget the real meaning of the day. I hope one day..to visit the Wall.

Kiss

Kiss


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 10:59 pm:
Kiss,

There is a moving Wall that tours the nation...it is a replica of the Memorial...if you google it, you might find out where it is at if you'd like to see it and not have to travel so far....

Thanks......

angelofmercy5 60F
17881 posts
5/23/2006 9:28 pm

NG...this was a very moving post! It is a reminder that we should appreciate the ones who defend our freedom here. We are truly spoiled brats in America. If you want to understand what we have here....go live in a foreign country. When you come home you will truly appreciate America. Thanks for the reminder!


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:00 pm:
angel,

I always liked the comment, "If this country is so bad, why do so many break the law to come here?"

Thank you for the comment....

rm_goddess1946 107F
13518 posts
5/23/2006 9:52 pm

Living in the area of the country that we do, I think that the reminders are here every day. Hope you and your loved ones have
a wonderful weekend...blessings always..

never forgetting here


Just a little food for thought.............
If you really want to be happy, nobody can stop you...
{=}


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:02 pm:
goddess,

I hear you...this entire state could be a Memorial Day memorial....from the Revolutionary War battles to the Civil War battles, to the training areas for our servicemen at the outbreak of WWII...

Thanks...hope your weekend is a good one....

GoddessOfTheDawn 106F
11240 posts
5/23/2006 10:37 pm


thx 4 the peekz 'n insightz




Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:03 pm:
GOTD, you are quite welcome....

whats4dessert2 50M

5/23/2006 10:37 pm

I was born, was raised and live in Canada but I admire the strength of character soldiers have shown from so many countries. A few weeks ago I was on the rental car shuttle bus at DFW airport and there was a mother and a child beside me(the child was probably about 4) There were troops all over the airport. (I later discovered that there were a large contingent who had just arrived home and another contingent outbound for, eventually, Iraq.

The little boy beside me on the bus was looking out the window and he was mesmerized by the soldiers in their fatigues by the curb. I swear to God I got a huge lump in my throat when the little guy turned to his mom and asked her "Is that daddy? Is he coming home?" and his mother just said "no, he's not coming home yet he has to be gone a little while longer"

I wish I had the courage of these men and women


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:07 pm:
Now that's heartwarming about the little boy...I've seen where troops returning to the airports are applauding by complete strangers in the terminals....

About the courage comment....let you in on a secret....most of the heroes you read about who have done such glorious deeds and been awarded medals for 'courage'....they'd be the first ones to tell you that they were scared sh*tless when things busted loose...

Courage is not having no fear...it is knowing you're afraid, but still doing what has to be done....and you don't have to be a soldier to do that.....think about it...and you'll probably find you're a lot more courageous than you think.....

Thanks.....

sportsfan362436 48F

5/23/2006 10:40 pm

Ng Sir, your words are incredible... however, I see not where Aanyone has thanked YOU for your service. Those of us in the military or married to it,( not all, unfortunately) are one big family of sorts. There is not a moment that I wouldn't open my home to a soldier, and have done so many a time here, just so ones either on their way, or returning from the battlefield, have home cooked meals, comfort, friendship, allow little ol' me to take care of these big strong individuals... if only for a little while.
It sickens me the way the American people act toward our military, and specifically now, at our soldiers' funerals. If they like not the way America is run, then by all means, they should move elsewhere!
*getting off my soap box, wiping my eyes, n blowing you and Aall who have served or are currently serving, as well as their families who support them, a kiss*

*Smiles, kisses n hugz*


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:09 pm:
My dear sports, there is no need to thank me....I just gently reminded everyone about the reason for this day...nothing more...

And thank you for opening your heart and home to a soldier who is far away from home and letting them find comfort...if only for a little while, as you said...

There will always be those who harbor a mistrust or a dislike for those in the military....so don't let them bother you....you are better than that....

Thanks.....

curious082385 32F
4925 posts
5/23/2006 11:49 pm

There are tears in my eyes now. Thank you for posting these stories...they are a fitting and beautiful tribute.


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:13 pm:
Thank you for your comments....didn't mean to make you cry...

HBowt2 60F

5/24/2006 1:17 am

You don't have to be american to understand the depth of your words NG....It's more about personal sacrifice and integrity.....believing in something and fighting for it....or just doing what you have to do...every country has it's heroes..


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:15 pm:
Far be it from me to leave out all those who stood for what they believed in...no matter what nationality they are....

One day, I hope to visit the UK and go to the places my uncles were stationed before they pushed off and went to a beach called Normandy on a day in June, 1944.....

rm_Melciber 63M
214 posts
5/24/2006 3:58 am

Good post NG - as for so many, my eyes are damp. Thank You.


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:16 pm:
Mel, no thank you for your comments....

libgemOH 57M/54F

5/24/2006 4:08 am

L, a very moving and relevent post and I thank you!

My son is an Airman and this year, Memorial Day means more to me than it ever did before!

And I have been to the Wall. I spent last Memorial Day and the one before that standing before that wall with tears in my eyes and gratitiude in my heart!! It was an experience I will never forget and no matter how many people are there, the area by the Wall remains quiet and somber. -B


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:16 pm:
B,

My best wishes to your son....may his guardian angel watch over him...always....

Thanks......

papyrina 52F
21133 posts
5/24/2006 4:54 am

thankyou


I'm a

and
i'm here to stay


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:17 pm:
thank you papy....[size0]*wonders why she keeps sticking her tongue out at him.....

MWWwantsmore 52F

5/24/2006 5:11 am

What a wonderful and moving post! Thanks for sharing and reminding us of what the upcoming holiday is all about!


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:18 pm:
Thank you for your comments.....

wickedeasy 68F  
31350 posts
5/24/2006 6:16 am

near the end of his life, my Dad was living in the shadow land of Alzheimer's. he had never spoken much about the time he served, but suddenly, the stories began spilling from him.

i was lucky enough to spend a week with him, shortly before he died. i don't think a single story had much to do with what he had done - they were each and all testaments to those that shared this incredible experience with him - those comrades in arms that became family.

for my Dad - there was no line separating time and he relived those years during that week. i found myself stunned, awed, terrified, i wept for shared moments of humanity in the depth of the havoc that is war, i laughed with him about a man called Cheese, who made the rats of the Philippines trained pets.

i do not even begin to understand how one survives this type of experience, but i bow deeply before all of those who serve - every American owes you their liberty.

You cannot conceive the many without the one.


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:20 pm:
wicked,

I never knew what my uncles had done in WWII until after their deaths....both were awarded the Bronze Star, one was awarded the Silver Star, one uncle helped liberate a death camp...and was never the same afterwards.....

The crucible of war changes people...sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better....

Thanks....

sexwyounow 52M

5/24/2006 8:00 am

GREAT POST. I have the utmost respect for soldiers. I know of the men you talk about that sell the little poppy's!

When I still lived with my father in Wisconsin we would always go to a VFW ceremony before we did whatever with our day off from work.

I have had the PLEASURE to work with some Vietnam vets and I learned a lot from them just by osmosis. (It's really strange)

I have also seen grown men cry. I'm talking about huge guys! There is NO shame for a man to cry or show his emotions.

I have not been to Washington since they put the wall up but I have been there and have viewed the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. There are always two Marines standing guard 24 hours a day no matter what the weather. A magnificent sight!

People forget! Memorial day, Fourth of July etc.

When we forget we repeat our mistakes again and again. I see our younger generation like the kids you described and it's really scary.
They don't have a CLUE about the torture these men went through. They laugh at these old men who gave of themselves unselfishly.
Some of these men are haunted every single day or night. I know because a personal friend of my family was a medic in Vietnam.

I wonder how those kids would like to have a wounded soldier crying "MEDIC" and when they get to the poor guy he has no arms. They would be crying for their mama and shitting their pants.

We (Including myself) cry and bitch and moan. We don't know how good we have it. Where else in the world can you go to a store and have 50 different kinds of tooth paste to choose from?

In Barbados where my mom is from when you go to the grocery store you probably have TWO kinds of bread to choose from and thats it but you know what? The cancer and disease is next to nothing there compared to the States and the people are so much kinder.

I have to laugh because the three times I have been there the tourists look like red Lobsters and do you know what the tourists do when they are there? Instead of exploring that beautiful place they lay on the beach all day trying to get cancer from the sun and then hibernate in their posh hotels. What a waste. There is so much beauty and things to see in Barbados. Oops. I am getting off the subject. My mind rambles sometimes ya know!!!!! Sorry!!!!!!!


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:24 pm:
Thanks for your comments...they are appreciated.

And before someone says something out of line, the Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown is from the Army...it is one of the hardest positions to even get considered for and one of the hardest positions to keep...one discrepancy and you're gone....

I hear you about having it easy....when I was in the service, I saw both the good and the bad of other places around the world. When I got a chance to go to India with a company I worked with, I saw utter poverty among the masses....I could not believe it. Made me humble to think how good we have it here....

Thanks for your comments...have a good weekend.....

rm_shannee2006 53F
3355 posts
5/24/2006 9:29 am

Thank you.

Yup...this juiciness is from me....

S


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:25 pm:
No....thank you.....

rm_DarkenMist 106F

5/24/2006 10:39 am

Nightguy...Ive heard many stories along My path from older men holding their head up high and telling the horrors they saw and their bravery. its amazing seeing the pain and suffering still in their eyes from the memories from long ago. My heart goes out to all of the men that die in battle and those that have to suffer from the memory of seeing friends lost to them right and left as they fought for their life and for our freedom. My hat goes off to all our Military for their brave efforts...past and present.


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:30 pm:
Darken,

I have heard these stories as well....not at all like the movies we grew up watching....

I remember one D-Day veteran who said that Saving Pvt. Ryan was the closest thing to capturing the horror and chaos of battle...he said that he remembered to this day how big guys, who the day before had been bullying others on the ship, were crying for their mothers...and trying to find their arm that had just been blown off.....

Thanks for your comments.....

NSAAddict 43F

5/24/2006 1:35 pm

This post gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. Wonderfully done Nightguy, thank you!


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:31 pm:
I'm glad you enjoyed it...and thank you.....

MamChelle 49F
1443 posts
5/24/2006 7:11 pm

*hugs* Been to that wall...and my Pappaw was a WW11 Veteran, he flew planes over japan. Memorial Day was growing up a time we honored all the soldiers, we listened for hours as Papaw told his war stories with a deep respect. i went and stood with him as they did an honor gaurd salute a few years before he died, and visited the graves of dear ones who died...but like mentioned until visiting that wall, you might not ever be the same again...thank You for i was deeply touched by the story...c


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:31 pm:
Thank you for your comments and sharing your memories......

blueguy1051 61M

5/24/2006 11:43 pm

I grew up in Santa Fe. The New Mexico National Guard was the main force holding the line on Bataan. My best friend's father, across the street, had a bazooka scar livid red on his back. His cousin, standing behind him, took it full in the chest. The kids across the street two houses away didn't have a father, he had died of his old injuries when they were young. The kids two doors down from me, their father was there. Four houses down to the left, across the street, their father was captured on Corregidor. They all survived the death march, but they were a small percentage compared to those who didn't.

My first trip to Russia, the lady I was visiting took me to see the memorial in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad. Her two aunts, ages 12 and 8, buried their mother after she and their youngest sister were killed by a German bomb. To the people I met there, the war wasn't ancient history, but an open wound. My lady's father fought his way into Berlin when he was 16.

Half of the men in my high school graduating class were killed or wounded in Vietnam. I have so many friends who are still struggling with the damage that war did to them.

And now we are doing it again, killing each other for reasons no one really understands.


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/24/2006 11:55 pm:
I remember reading somewhere, can't remember where, but the line went something like,

"No one hates war more than the soldier. Just like the doctor who battles cancer...the doctor doesn't like the disease, he just wants to eliminate it and move on. The soldier wants to do his/her job and just go home...."

Thanks for your comments.....

NGs_lady 65F
762 posts
5/25/2006 7:31 am

As I sit with tears in my eyes thinking of my Dad I say thank you. You already know He was in WWII. So many people don't realize what memories Memorial Day brings to some people.

With Love and Respect

NGs_lady/ Lady Stee


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/25/2006 9:59 am:
I regret I never got the chance to meet him, my lady....we could have gotten into so much trouble together.....

VATraveler1948 69M

5/28/2006 6:26 am

Thanks for putting it all in perspective NightGuy. Beautiful post! And you are absolutely right about the "Wall", I cry every time that I walk down that long walkway. Many of my friends and classmates are recorded in those inscriptions. For me, it's the most sobering monument in Washington, DC.


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/28/2006 9:50 pm:
Over the weekend, there have been thousands of bikers that are heading up to DC for Rolling Thunder '06....if you've never seen it, it is where the bikers show their respect for the names on the Wall....very powerful, very moving.

Thanks............

honeycomb1974 45M/44F
282 posts
5/28/2006 7:25 am

My son is now making plans for his military career after graduation, I am so scared for him, but at the same time I am so proud of his decision to protect this country. God bless out soldiers past, present and future! Honey


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/28/2006 9:51 pm:
Honey,

My thoughts and prayers go with your son, along with my gratitude.....thanks

rm_teddybare426 60M
487 posts
5/28/2006 7:29 am

Few people really understand the freedom we have.

And why we have it.

Thank you.


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/28/2006 9:51 pm:
Freedom ain't free....never has been, never will be....thanks....

UnpinAfireFaust 58M

5/28/2006 11:15 am

As You ended Your post, NG61... "Lest we forget" ...and unfortunately so many do. Reading Your post today did cause Me to stop and reflect for two reasons. One, because of Memorial Day. But two and maybe more important (at least to Me) ...two months ago today...I buried My father...a veteran of the Korean War.

Sports is well aware of My views on the subject of veterans and how they are treated...and how I always tried to treat the troops entrusted to My care (as she has rolled her eyes and reminded Me at times) ...probably because they are identical to her's. As I have mentioned to You...anything I can do to help...

My thoughts this weekend will be with those who may not be home with their loved ones...doing what is needed...whether they agree with it or not...to protect our country and the freedoms that we all enjoy.


Nightguy_1961 replies on 5/28/2006 9:52 pm:
My condolences on the passing of your father....and what he gave for his country.

Thanks.....

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