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The last Monday of May in the U.S. is the Memorial Day holiday. Wikipedia says,
Memorial Day is a United States Federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (in 2008 on May 26). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who perished while in military service to their country. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action.
As U.S. soldiers are fighting and dying daily, totaling much more than 4,000 to date, this opinion piece from today’s Washington Post is worth reflection. It’s author, William Troy, is a general.
By William Troy | Monday, May 26, 2008; Page A17
Throughout this war, the Army has maintained the practice of assigning a general officer to attend the funeral of every soldier who falls in service to our country. I’ve had this duty many times. The intensity of each funeral leaves me struggling to understand the enormousness of the sacrifice to which I have been a witness.
My first funeral is as clear in my mind as scenes from a familiar movie. Pfc. Christopher Kilpatrick died on June 20, 2005. I think everyone in town knew him. The residents of Columbus, Tex., filled every chair at the Knights of Columbus hall, and well-wishers lined the walls. His two sisters made a memorial video set to music. It was a moving tribute to the baby brother they fussed over; the toddler in cowboy boots; the youngster growing up hunting and fishing; the Eagle Scout; the basketball player letting a three-point shot fly; the kid with a big smile and the obligatory pickup truck.
I had to speak after that video, and I wasn’t sure the words would come out. I blocked out the rest of the hall and tried to address his parents and sisters. I hope I did Christopher justice. We laid him to rest just outside of town. When I tried to tell my wife about it later, through my tears all I could say was, “Today was supposed to be his 19th birthday.”
Whatever one thinks of the benighted lunatic civilians whose horrific project this Iraq misadventure is, one needs to make certain that the true patriots, the women and men in uniform who are the teeth of the tiger, are properly appreciated and honored. Not the least of which honor is the current practice of assigning a general officer to each funeral.
Would that such attention to detail have evolved toward supporting our living soldiers (i.e., strategic and tactical conduct of the war, medical treatment of wounded personnel, veterans’ benefits).
But, let Gen. Troy have his day.
[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]
Please take time out today between shopping the big Memorial Day sales at the mall and the festive barbecues, to remember the veterans of military service of all of our wars who were or are in your lives, dead and living, fallen in battle or simply fallen to the ravages of time. Recovering, as best they can given the slothful government for which they sacrificed, from the wounds and stress of combat, or simply recovering from the stress of duty as that tiger’s tooth.
We comfortable civilians owe them our respect and gratitude.
It’s it for now. Thanks,