Memorial Day

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 6 months ago

Arlington National Cemetery, Government issued headstones of Section 34 looking south.

Here is a sentiment with which The Captain’s Journal completely agrees.

They were simple instructions. If you know people serving in the military, pay thanks. When you hear the national anthem, stand and remove your hat. Take to your feet when the flag passes by. Never ask veterans whether they’ve killed someone, or seen dead people, or lost friends in combat. If you haven’t served, don’t pretend to know the military experience, Marine Corps Cpl. Shawn MacDonald told Bow middle-schoolers at their Memorial Day assembly yesterday.

“A lot of people would like to relate to the individuals who’ve served in the military, and they tell them, ‘We understand; we know what you’ve been through,’ ” said MacDonald, 22. “I think that if you could refrain from telling people you understand, you would pay us a great service.”

And come Memorial Day, honor more than those who died in combat, said MacDonald, who returned to his Bow home only this week after serving in Iraq and being stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Think about those who have lost loved ones in combat, and about those who currently have relatives serving overseas. And, he said, think about those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with injuries or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“They continue to live on with the memories and the pain,” said MacDonald, 22. “For those people, we really need to pay our respects.”

Right before deploying to Iraq in 2007, my son said “good training, good weapons, good people, we should be fine.”  I recall it vividly, since it was juxtaposed with another statement he made to me earlier without really looking my direction: “I want to be buried at Arlington.”

No response was needed on my part.  I just nodded after he looked over at me.  It was his way of telling me that if he perished, he belonged with his fellow warriors.  Many hours of prayer and lost sleep ensued over the next seven months.  My son saw much combat but returned home.  But there are men who don’t, and whether warriors are deployed, home or at Arlington (or a like cemetery), the wars take a heavy toll on the loved ones of our warriors – spouses, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters.

Never forget.

  • Breakerjump

    “A lot of people would like to relate to the individuals who’ve served in the military, and they tell them, ‘We understand; we know what you’ve been through,’ ” said MacDonald, 22. “I think that if you could refrain from telling people you understand, you would pay us a great service.”

    MacDonald has the wrong attitude about this, a product of either ignorance, youth or military-elitism which does exist.

    It’s simple, really – when people tell our returning soldiers they understand what they’ve been through, they do. Everyone experiences loss, grief, and pain – and these feelings are perfectly applicable to any unfortunate situation or experience.

    I think that if some of these soldiers would allow themselves to swallow the fact that others DO understand, they’d do themselves a far greater service than anyone else could, and certainly a far greater service than the bottom of the bottles some of them turn to.


You are currently reading "Memorial Day", entry #1109 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Memorial Day and was published May 24th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

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