To start things off, I want to pay tribute to the veterans and currently serving members of our Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force (formerly Army Air Corps), Marines, and Coast Guard. Yes, the Coast Guard is part of our defense system and even served during WWII in an active capacity. I visited one such ship in Key West last summer.
He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than 5 wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
She - or - he - is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back at all.
He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines and teaching them to watch each other's backs.
He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the career quartermaster who watches the medals and ribbons pass by him.
He is the three anonymous heroes in the Tomb of the Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being - a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded. Two little words that mean a lot: "THANK YOU." Remember that November 11th is Veteran's Day. (and May 31st is Memorial Day)
"It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."
Father Denis Edward O'Brien
(1) post a comment to this post only, tell me which branch of service you wish to honor in the piece I stitch for you (all branches are alright as well), and include your email so that I may contact you if you are the winner
(2) for a second entry, post a link to this post on your blog
(3) for a third entry, tell me why Memorial Day holds something special in your heart. Did you have a relative serve during the Wars, Korea, Viet Nam, the Gulf? Do you have someone serving now? How about your ancestors? Did any of them serve in any of the early wars in America (the Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War, etc)? I would love to hear your story!
Now for my story…
serve in Viet Nam in the Army. My paternal grandfather was a bit too young for WWI and a bit too old for WWII, but he served in the Army
for a few years between the wars. I’ve had cousins in the Army serve in Germany and Iraq. And I have a cousin in the Navy, who is currently deployed but due home in June sometime. I have a second cousin who was serving in Iraq with a Marine detachment when his mother suddenly passed away 2 years ago.
And in case you were wondering, the date of the drawing is May 31st, which is Memorial Day this year!