Take time to reflect on what Memorial Day means.

Although this should probably go in the political area, since this thread already exists, I post this here to share. For those of you too young to remember 'Nam, this ought to conjur up an idea of the emotions those who served had:

> > > What I'll Be Doing For Memorial Day
> > > By James E. Leiker
> > >
Memorial Day is a rough day for me. It's a day of remembering. Remembering
can be a curse when you've spent years trying to forget. It's even worse
when you get mad at yourself for not being able to remember. It's strange
that you forget so many things you want to remember and remember so much
that you really want to forget.

I spent 11 months, 28 days in sunny Southeast Asia. I came back physically
whole. "No members missing" tag on this Marine. By the Grace of God, good
training, and just plain pure dumb luck, I suffered no more than a slight
hearing loss, a concussion or two, and 25 years of mixed-blessing memories.

I've been a good husband to my wife, a lousy father to my two daughters, a
mediocre son to my mother, and a reasonably successful employee to five
employers over the years. With these results, I consider myself as doing
better than the average bear when compared to many of my fellow veterans.
The Grace of God and luck still abound. Memorial Day is not a day for
self-evaluation or selfish thoughts. So I turn my remembrances to other
people, places, and things.

I remember heat. Heat that kept you from getting a full breath for weeks.
Heat that sapped your strength so that you were beyond exhaustion after a
minor exertion. Heat that made you tired and kept you from sleeping. Heat
that made you sweat buckets. Heat that made you freezing cold at 70 degrees.
I remember lush green mountains that always seemed to go up not down. I
remember red earth that was sticky enough to glue a deuce and a half in
place, slippery enough to make it impossible to stand on, and dusty enough
to choke you into a coughing fit like a bad cigar. I remember rice paddies.
They could get you killed or save your life. Dikes stop bullets but can
leave you exposed if you're dumb enough to walk on them. The water smelled
of feces but was better than not drinking at all. I remember rain. Rain
that broke the intolerable heat then never stopped. Rain that was as gentle
as silk or as stinging as a nest of bees. Rain that let you get a good
clean shower and rotted your feet 'til they bled. I remember the sun. The
sun that created the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I've ever seen in
my life. The sun that you couldn't look at...if you ever wanted to see
again. The sun that you could feel without touching it. I remember a moon
that shone so bright you could read a map by it. I remember moonlight
dancing on foliage that made you see nothing one minute and imagine a host
of slinking VC the next. I'll never forget the colors of an explosion close
at hand. The white center bleeding out to a yellow ring surrounded by black
rolling smoke was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. I remember the
orange and green tracers dancing lazily through the night, while I prayed
that none came to roost on me.

But above all this, I remember people. Faces, personalities, and human
events still crowd my days and nights with pleasure and pain. I can remember
entire conversations and events in explicit detail. I cannot remember the
names of more than a few, and I don't know why. Shouldn't this be the other
way around?

I remember the parting face of the Huey jock, who took an RPG in the nose
100 yards after he lifted off from leaving me in a clearing. I remember
every detail of the guy who hung himself 2 weeks before he was going back to
the world. I remember the guitar songs taught to me by the kid from Boston,
who drove a jeep over a 105 shell buried on a dirt road and tripped the
trap. I remember the quiet calm of the guy who told me he was sorry and
assured me that I would be O.K. after he stepped on a mortar-round booby
trap. All this while I held what was left of him in my arms, and we filled
him with enough morphine to kill a horse because he was cut in half below
the waist; and we knew he wouldn't survive the slick ride back to DaNang.

Of the hundreds I knew, I kick myself for remembering so few. Especially on
this Memorial Day when I should be able to remember each and every one.
They are the ones who paid for this Memorial Day. This is their day. I will
not spoil it by forgetting even one of their number. God help me, I will
remember. From this day forth I will carry their memory and spirit with me
as a living memorial to their sacrifice and dedication to God, country,
duty, and honor. They shall not pass gently into the night as long as I have
breath in my body to shout to the world...

REMEMBER, REMEMBER...For God's sake Remember.

US Navy (Retired)

I did NOT escape from the institution! They gave me a day pass!

[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 29 May 1999).]
During WWII my uncle was an army muscian and joining the army was very important to him. He told my aunt who he was dating back then if he failed his induction physical and couldn't serve he would want to die.

As a muscian you would think that he would have a cushy job but my uncle and his bandmates were not unlike the other men that served in those days and they eagerly volunteered to play their instruments to help the morale of the fighting men. He traveled to New Georgia in the Solomon Islands in July 1943 and witnessed severe fighting. The muscians volunteered to be stretcher bearers and my uncle and a number of his bandmates volunteered to go behind enemy lines to retrieve wounded GIs. My uncle and his close friend were working together pulling GIs out of harms way when they saw a wounded American calling for help. The fighting around them was fierce and they weren't even armed. They made a decision to go after the guy and in doing so my uncle's friend was killed and my uncle severely wounded as he pulled this man to safety. The bandsmen around him did the same thing and their numbers were reduced from 30 to 7 that day. They all knew they would face certain death but they volunteerd anyhow.

My uncle layed on the beach in an ambulance for 5 days and nearly bled to death before being shipped to an aid station. He then spent many months and had several surgeries to repair his arm and shoulder and it took him many months to recover. He didn't know why he lived and his friends died but he never forgot them and he lived his life always appreciating their sacrifices.

He received the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for his actions.

He passed away in the 1993 and my aunt asked me to be the custodian of his medals and I have them hanging proudly in my house in a shadow box. I am extremely proud to watch over those medals and I know there are hundreds of stories like this that show the sacrifice that the many Americans have made to help make our country secure.

We should never forget the actions of men and woman like my uncle and those countless other Americans who gave their lives for our country.

God Bless the warriors on this Memorial day.

Thanks for letting me share this.


This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

King Henry V (to Westmoreland)
Henry V

I write a column for the Gloucester County Times in Woodbury, NJ and though I might share with you the column that will appear on Monday.

Jim Six Column for Monday, May 31, 1999

Today is one of the days we honor our military heroes.

No, not the three guys who were prisoners of war in Yugoslavia for a month. Our real heroes.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against those three soldiers who were
captured. I’m sure it was a terrible experience for them. I know I certainly
wouldn’t like it if it had happened to me.

But they were apparently captured without putting up a fight. Didn’t fire a shot. Heavily armed soldiers, they were simply surrounded and taken. Looks like they got beat up a bit. One of them had a broken nose.

A month after they were captured, they were released. Almost immediately, they were lionized. They’ve been given a slew of important medals and decorations, including the Purple Heart.

People have been writing and talking about their terrible ordeal and the hell they must have gone through as if they’d been held captive for years instead of weeks. Treating their captivity in this manner seems to lessen the experience of real POWs and even the civilians who were held hostage in the Middle East for several years.

Soldiers in World War II were in the service for years, for Pete’s sake!

I just think there are so many real heroes we should honor.

Charles Cusumano, 79, just received his Bronze Star the other day, just a bit late. During World War II, Charlie went hungry, lost 50 pounds, contracted malaria and denque fever and even lost three vertebrae in an enemy attack in New Guinea, but he never stopped repairing airplanes. That was just his job. I wonder if Charlie ever got a Purple Heart for those vertebrae.

My dad was in the Army Air Corps. Jim Six was a belly gunner on a B-24
Liberator. His plane flew missions over Europe and North Africa.

When his plane was aloft, Sixie donned his sheepskin-lined leather flight
jacket and climbed into a clear turret and was lowered out the belly of the
plane. He hovered there firing a machine gun with nothing but a layer of
Plexiglas between him and the earth thousands of feet below.

He got a bullet in one of his knuckles during the war. I don’t know why or how, but I remember seeing the slug when I was a kid. I don’t think he ever got a Purple Heart, though. It was no big thing, the bullet wound. There was a war going on and lots of people were getting really wounded. And really dead.

Once, when a bomb got jammed in the open bomb bay doors on the plane, Sixie
grabbed a screwdriver and inched out onto a narrow catwalk over the open doors. He gave the bomb a couple of powerful whacks to knock it loose. No big deal. That was part of his job.

He got a couple medals, the Air Medal and Victory Medal, but he never even
thought about getting any of the important medals our new heroes just received for spending a grueling 30 days in captivity.

Besides, Sixie wasn’t a hero. He was just my dad.

Maybe it’s something about a new breed of warrior, something I don’t understand. Veterans of the Gulf War have a syndrome. Vietnam vets suffered post traumatic stress disorder. I met some of my dad’s war buddies and none of them seemed to be suffering from shell shock. None of them seemed to wake up screaming in the night.

I have no business criticizing anyone. As far as New Jersey is concerned, I am not a veteran. I served six years in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. I spent enough time on active duty with the regular Army to be eligible for the GI Bill. I spent a lot of time learning how to quell riots. Had there been riots in the streets of Pennsylvania, I would have been one of the soldiers pointing rifles and bayonets at other Pennsylvanians as we marched through the chaos in flying wedge formations. I learned how to combat urban guerrillas, darting from building to building in small groups, firing our weapons and lobbing tear gas. I had a top secret crypto security clearance.

We didn’t fight anyone, though. We were activated in 1971 to help rebuild portions of a city damaged by floods, but in that case, our enemy was nature, not combat troops.

My draft status is 4-A, the same as my dad’s was. That means I served my six-year military obligation to the United States. But this state doesn’t recognize me as a vet, so I guess I have no room to talk.

Still, I hate to see the honor of our real heroes made small. If we’re going
to honor our heroes, let’s make sure they are heroes.

©1999 South Jersey Newspapers Co.
Thank you for the reminder. Even more thanks to those who served and are serving now.


You forgot to mention that one of those soldiers had broken ribs and that they were beaten with fists and rifle butts and kept in solitary confinement until Jessie Jackson got there. There ordeal comes no where close to what many have gone through, but is worse than any ordeal I have had to deal with in my 24 years of active duty service. Don't make it less than what it was.

All gave some, some gave all.
I was in the service a ground pounder
all I have to say is

Well put Chief, well put. Memorial Day is a day to give thanks to those who served their country honorably--no matter where or when, not a time to compare score cards.

Chief, you last sentence says it all. Those are the best 6 words I have read in 19 years of active duty.



Mr. Six, I think you should reconsider publishing that piece. The fact that many men have not been properly recognized for their contributions to our continued Liberty does by no means reduce the ordeal that these men went through. Would you consider them heroes only if they were wounded or killed? Only if they had wounded or killed those on the other side of the line? Is placing your own life on the line for others not a noble enough act in your own estimation?

Every man and woman who has ever placed their own life and liberty at risk in defense of the defenseless deserves all the respect and adulation that we as a nation can muster. You seem to scoff at the fact that they spent only a month in captivity, while some poor souls had to endure years of torture before being liberated. I ask you directly, How would you feel if you had to lay down to sleep just one night knowing that the next dawn could well be your last, if you even live to see it? Multiply that by thirty or three thousand, the equation is the same. It is unacceptable, plain and simple, as are your words, sir.

Let history judge the merits of this conflict, not your petty and spiteful thoughts. If you feel that your father and other veterans of W.W.II have not been properly honored, then I am in agreement with you. How do you honor the men that saved the world, who risked and in many cases lost everything so that we can enjoy the liberty we have today? There is nothing adequate. But you can respect and honor their memory and accomplishments without disparaging those three young men, sent into a situation that you and I can never understand.

As to your never meeting a veteran of the W.W.II who suffered from “shell shock”, consider that a blessing. My father in law was nineteen when he shipped out to the South Pacific with the USMC, and he never talked about the experiences he had there, but his daughter knew from the pain he suffered every day and the nightmares that tormented him on most nights that he was scarred by that conflict, in almost every way possible. My Great Uncle Max landed at Omaha Beach, and every day until the day he died he lived with what he had done and saw, lived with the faces of the men he had grown to love and trust and were lost that day haunting him. They came from a generation that had survived the Depression and lived to make a better world. Thank God most of them were able to put the horrors of war behind them and concentrate on creating the better tomorrow we all now enjoy. That many were unable to and suffered mostly in silence is a tragedy, not a good reason to disparage those unable to deal with it in the same manner.

My Grandfather, Comdr. Walter L. Wilkins, USN (ret) was a psychology professor at Northwestern University when our nation entered the war. He remained in the service until his retirement over thirty years later. He stayed on because he wanted to help the men and women that serve our country in this fashion understand and come to terms with the extreme duress that they were placed under. He was one of a group of men who coined the term “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” to describe what some of these men suffered. He wanted the whole nation to understand the very real pain suffered by many veterans, including those whom, like his younger brother, suffered in silence. The original Hells Angels were not formed by a bunch of draft dodgers, but by young veterans who found themselves unable to successfully re-integrate into society after what they had seen and done so far from home.

I find your callousness thoughtless and shocking. If you feel that your father was not properly honored at the time, gather evidence and testimonials to present to the U.S. Congress. If you yourself feel slighted by your own lack of “veteran” status, seek redress with your State Legislature. Your attacking these three men only reduces your credibility, and saying that you
have nothing against those three soldiers who were
and then going on to claim that they are receiving undeserved accolades is simply a slap in the face of every man and woman involved in this conflict. My feelings and opinions about the conflict itself are irrelevant, because this nation should have learned thirty years ago that our men and women in uniform deserve our unwavering support in their efforts to secure our continued liberty.

Remember sir, that They Also Serve Whom Only Watch and Wait. If you cannot keep that in mind, then I suggest you exercise some restraint when commenting about the members of our nations armed forces.

From: Ivan8883@aol.com 5-30-99 958PM EDT As a Army Veteran(1967-1970) ,I would like to reflect this Memorial Day on a statement I heard many years ago that reflected that if the dead came back there would be no more wars! Wars started by men (politicians) who for the most part never fought in any wars or knew what war really meantor reallyeven cared about the butchers bill that war sent to the people. Memorial Day is a sad day for me even as I honor the veterans of the past with the belief that history willagain repeat itself in future wars caused by politicians. Ivan
My most sincere thanks to all the men out there who serve and have served our country. God Bless you and yours. Marcus
I'd like to thank the brave men and women who gave of them selves fighting to make life safe for Americans, through out our history.

When I read stories like the ones in this thread tears come to my eyes, I'm not ashamed to get a little misty under these circumstances, I believe tears should be shed for the sacrifices of our troops, it gives them honor.

I didn't serve. Thirty years later I'm sorry I didn't. Now I'm more aware then I've ever been of what you who did serve gave. But I'll never know the depth of what you gave.

Thank You from the bottom of my heart.


[This message has been edited by Lucky Dog (edited 31 May 1999).]
To those living and dead who have served to protect our country and our way of life, thank you.


There is a tribute at agrussell.com that you folks might wish to see. It looks like a one day page for memorial day.