Memorial Day – May 30, 2005

Their service came not as a burden but as a duty. The Daily Demarche on the origins of Memorial Day:

In 1918 Moina Michael penned “We Shall Keep the Faith” in response to John McCrae’s “In Flanders Field” (both poems can be found at the end of this post) launching the idea of wearing a poppy on the 30th of May in remembrance of our fallen warriors. While Memorial Day has existed as a federal holiday since only 1966, the practice of honoring America’s war dead dates to at least the Civil War . . .

Also in the post, details on the petition to move Memorial Day back to the 30th of May. (Seems like a good idea to me) .

  • Via Michelle Malkin):

    Legacy.com has set up a moving tribute page to honor service members who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The company set up the site free of charge and launched it in March. The Guest Book sections are must read. Well over 19,000 Guest Book entries from readers have been posted since the site opened.

  • God & Man on the Frontlines, Kathryn Jean Lopez interviews Stephen Mansfield, author of The Faith of the American Soldier, on religion in the military and the necessity for a ‘faith-based warrior code’:

    NRO: What does honor mean for the American on the battlefield?

    Mansfield: Honor on the battlefield results from living by a code that rescues the warrior from barbarism and elevates the profession of arms. It means understanding soldiering as a spiritual service as much as a martial role. Honorable soldiers are devoted to the moral objectives of their nation in war, are willing to lay their lives on an altar of sacrifice, are courageous in subduing the enemy yet compassionate to civilians and prisoners, are devoted to a godly esprit de corps, and are eager to master the art of arms by way of fulfilling a calling.

    NRO: How important was it that the Iraq war be addressed in theological just-war terms?

    Mansfield: It is vital for a government to establish the morality of a war before sending soldiers into battle. The traditional just-war concept has to be satisfied. Soldiers don’t want to fight simply to defend a nation’s vanity or to support a corrupt vision. They want to know they are doing good. This is essential for them and for the nation that is going to welcome them home again. I have talked to hundreds of soldiers during the research of this book. Almost every one of them mentioned his or her need to believe in the goodness of their nation’s purposes in war.

    And this interesting background to the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal:

    NRO: Is Abu Ghraib a symptom of a non-faith-based warrior code?

    Mansfield: The Abu Ghraib scandal has a faith backstory. The chaplain who was at Abu Ghraib during the scandals was told not to be in the way but to let the soldiers come to her. There was no moral presence and little spiritual influence during the time of the scandals. Chapel attendance was low and many soldiers later said they did not even know who the chaplain was. When that unit was replaced, the chaplains of the new unit were told to be present at prisoner interrogations, at shift changes and in the daily lives of the soldiers. The entire atmosphere changed. Chapel attendance reached into the hundreds and the prison became a model operation. This makes the case for continuous moral influence upon soldiers at war and for a faith based warrior code as a hedge against future abuses.

  • Josh Trevino @ Redstate.org:

    There is little to be said about the dead of our wars that has not been said either as great rhetoric or cliche. We honor them, and in doing so we induct them into a mythos that is at once truth and lie. It is truth that in serving this nation, they died well and in a noble cause. It is a lie that they were, broadly, supermen of virtue, with that virtue made manifest by the circumstance of their deaths. They were like us: men and women of American cities, towns, and countryside who were called — sometimes as volunteers, sometimes as draftees — and who thereby found themselves in the most terrible of experiences on this earth. Some of them died differently from the others: their deaths were marked by such tremendous valor that we honor them in remembrance with medals or tales of great deeds. But the most common deaths are the inglorious ones: the errant mortar fragment in the heart; the broken neck in a crash. Those are the ways in which my two erstwhile Army friends recently died in Iraq. Neither had time for the final gesture or the blaze of glory, because death came for them as it usually does in war: swift, unexpected, and unchosen. We honor them nonetheless, and not just because they chose their perilous profession. Even if they had been draftees, even reluctant draftees, they would still be the embodiment of our nation at war: and in our republic, we are that nation. Not the king, as in earlier times, nor the party, as in latter-day autocracies, nor a malevolent god, as in the polities of our present foes. Literally and symbolically, because of what our country is, our soldiery fights and bleeds and dies in our stead. Not for us — as us.
  • The CommandersNational Review Online May 27, 2005. Jim Lacy profiles General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other officers in our Armed Forces, countering the stereotype of “cold, unfeeling officers who callously send young soldiers out to die while sitting safely in the rear”:

    Those with no familiarity with America’s warriors might say they just like fighting and killing. Those people have never spoken to an officer who has been in a hard fight. They have never heard the cracking voice as he relates the difficulty of looking at people, whether enemy or ally, killed as a result of his orders. They have never heard the anguish of a leader replaying for the thousandth time the loss of one of his own. They did not hear an armored company commander answer a question about how he felt about having his soldiers rebuild schools after fighting to seize Baghdad literally days before. He said, “I cannot tell you how great it feels to be able to stop killing and start helping people.” Such is the overwhelming compassion of those who fight our wars.
  • Lexington Green (ChicagoBoyz) would like us to become acquainted with Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith — “the first and only Medal of Honor recipient in this war, so far. He died on 4 April 2003. His sixteen men were attacked by over 100 Iraqi troops . . .”

    Smith not only died heroically, but lived and led with intense professionalism. He trained his men hard, caring only for their lives and not whether he was popular. His life was an example self-sacrificing leadership which everyone in America should know about.

    The news media would prefer to treat such men and their lives and sacrifices as “not news” — or as mere numbers in a body count which can be publicized to defeat the cause they died for.

    To them, a lie about a Koran in a toilet is news.

    A Medal of Honor for a heroic American soldier, husband and father, leader and warrior, is not news.

    What is important is not what is reported in the MSM. What is reported is not all the news there is. Seek it out. Be aware. The Internet has destroyed their monopoly.

    Never trust these people. They lie by commission, and even worse by omission. What they choose not to talk about is where the real news is.

    You can read more about him here.

  • Opening the Gates of Heaven – blogger Blackfive explains the meaning of TAPS:

    When Taps is played at dusk, it has a completely different meaning than when Taps is played during the day. No soldier really wants to hear it played during daylight. For when the bugle plays Taps in the daylight…that means a soldier has fallen . . . There is a belief among some that Taps is the clarion call to open the gates of heaven for the fallen warrior and letting them know to “Safely Rest” . . .

    For those who wish to convey their appreciation for those in service to our country, Blackfive also provides a list of organizations who “work dilligently to support our military personnel in many different and positive ways.”

  • Hugo Schwyzer, “a progressive, consistent-life ethic Anabaptist/Episcopalian Democrat” learning to love the uniform after encountering a young soldier at a gas station:

    . . . it brought back memories of the mid-1980s, when I was a freshman at Cal and participating in often-violent anti-ROTC demonstrations. (The ROTC building was actually burned down at one point, and no, I had nothing to do with that!) But years ago, I heaped my share of terrible verbal abuse at many a young cadet. I sprayed more than one young man with spittle as I railed on about whatever the issue was at the time (I think it was opposition to the Contra war in Nicaragua.) I overturned tables, ran from campus police, and took part in a variety of small acts of criminal destruction of ROTC property that seemed (at the time) to be enormously brave and today seem to me to be colossally juvenile. Trust me, folks, if I seem gentle today, it’s an act of will and a gift of grace that have made me so. I could be a vicious hothead when I was younger and filled with more testosterone.

    I wonder if I owe some sort of collective amends to the military. I don’t know how the young men at whom I yelled and whom I called names (unprintable here) reacted to what I did some twenty years ago when I was a teenager. I can’t imagine it was easy for them to remain stone-faced while I — and my fellow upper middle-class self-righteous radicals — directed apoplectic rage their way. Today, I think what I did back then was wrong and pointless. Alas, at eighteen I was at an age when I was indeed “often in error, and never in doubt.” I’m ashamed of my past behavior, even though I haven’t hurled profane opprobrium at any one in uniform since my last protest, which was fourteen years ago at the start of the first Gulf War in January 1991. . . .

    In my early years (teens/20’s) I shared a similar conception of our military as Hugo, and while never having gone so far as to verbally abuse a ROTC cadet, I confess there are things I’ve said in print in those days that I’m certainly not proud of. So I would like to extend my thanks to Hugo for his courage and honesty, and if I may second his words of remorse.

    Today’s roundup goes out to all of our brave men and women serving our nation in all branches of our Armed Forces. And especially to my young brother Nathan, US Navy, currently serving aboard the U.S.S. Kearsearge. We miss you, God bless!

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