Memorial DayPosted: May 26, 2008
The day lilies are back. Honeysuckle and morning glories and pretty roses climb fences and trellises. Impatiens and begonias border sidewalks. Clover, wild onions, and dandelions spangle the yard. It’s time for the first watermelon cutting, time to toast marshmallows, time to slap some burgers on the grill.
It’s Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is for honoring our nation’s war dead. It’s a day to put flowers on soldiers’ graves and hang the flag in remembrance of those who gave their lives in service to our country.
I have three 4th-great grandfathers who fought in the Revolution. I have a piece of the original tombstone of one of them, placed in a mulched bed of creeping Jenny in the backyard.
Dad served in World War II and rode with the Third Army under George Patton. He was a sergeant, a front-line medic, and got a Bronze Star with Valor. “War is hell,” he said.
“War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it’s the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you’ll know what to do!” Patton said.
No soldier is ever one hundred percent sane after the initial indoctrination of war. No soldier is ever free from emotional scars related to perpetual exposure to imminent danger. “The first exposure, whether from being wounded, the scream of an artillery projectile, a buddy with a gaping wound exposing his guts, cries of pain, stench of blood, decaying body parts, the odor from a flame thrower producing that of roast meat, your buddy blown to bits, missing a limb or two, the realization that he’ll never walk or talk, a pig devouring the guts of an enemy, are forever etched into the brain matter. Unlike a lost limb or a wound from injured tissues, cerebral scars cannot be seen. But they are there.” (Dr. Harold Rosenberg, WWII veteran)
War is hell. Soldiers die. Soldiers come home from the battlefront to live among innocents who stick SUPPORT YOUR TROOPS ribbons on their cars, and they try to resume normal lives after what they’ve seen and where they’ve been and what they’ve been baptized in.
So when you fly your flag today and think of the war dead, remember those at battle now. We’ve had over 4 thousand deaths and 30,000 wounded. We’ve got 150,000 men in boots on the ground. Thirty percent of them will develop mental problems within three or four months after they come home. That’s 45,000 boys the ages of my sons who are coming back to mamas and daddies and wives and babies and in dire need of help.
Folks, it’s gonna take a whole lot more than those damn yellow stickers on your SUV’s to take care of these boys!