Memorial Day 2008

“Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.”
Ronald Reagan, Memorial Day 1986

The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

“Bivouac of the Dead”, Theodore O’Hara.

  • 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 . . .

  • “Fallen, But Never Forgotten” – ongoing series at Black Five.
  • Legacy.com: In Remembrance – to remember and honor American service members lost in Afghanistan and Iraq. Currently, 3,839 service members are honored on this site.
  • Stars and Stripes lists some ways to support servicemembers, with links to many charities and services for our veterans. (See also Blackfive’s compilation of groups who work dilligently to support our military personnel in many different and positive ways).
  • The Last Doughboy George Will profiles Frank Buckles, the last remaining living veteran of World War I.
  • “To Live with Honor” – National Review recognizes Mike Spann, the first American to die on a foreign field of battle in the War on Islamic Terror.
  • From Bishop Fulton Sheen’s Wartime Prayerbook:

    The great French preacher Lacordaire once said the vocation of a soldier is next in dignity to the priesthood, not only because it commissioned him to defend justice on the field of battle and order on the field of peace, but also because it called him to the spirit and intention of sacrifice.

    Initially compiled during World War II, a new edition of was republished in 2003 by Sophia Institute Press. (Read an excerpt from Sheen’s Wartime Prayerbook).

  • Bagpipes Cryin’ – Based on a poem written by Commander Mark Waddell, as a tribute to the SEALS he lost in the Middle East. Set to music by Tim Rushlow:

    “I had three of the four guys on the ground that died that day. I was so heartbroken after I passed out all the flags at the memorial service. I was just thinking about the bagpiper, who is also a retired SEAL captain, standing there literally crying the song out of the bagpipes. We were all so sad. When I came home my wife said I should write down some words. Tim called me and asked how I was doing. I told him I wrote this poem and he said well let me have it. We went back and forth on the phone and decided to make it a tribute to everyone from World War II to the present.”

    Stumbled across an old green box
    in my granddaddy’s house
    Inside was a cross
    some old dog tags
    and a picture of when he was shipping out.
    So I showed it to him
    said “tell me about those days”
    When he looked inside
    he closed his eyes all he could say was:

    “I hear bagpipes cryin’ Amazing Grace
    Omaha Beach and her crashing waves.
    Old Glory draped like Heaven’s mercy
    over the fallen sons.
    I see all the heroes
    who were willing to fight in the name of freedom
    layin’ down their lives.
    And prayin’ God’s grace
    would keep us safe from harm
    until they brought us boys back home.”

    Those words to a boy that became a man
    now I’m ankle deep in this Persian sand.
    And every day I’m giving all I can
    because I’m damn proud to be American
    Yeah, I made some friends
    and I’ve lost some too
    When I think about what they gave for me and you

* * *
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) and to my grandfather, Maas Vanderbilt (U.S. Army).

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, let thy protection be upon all those who are in the service of our country; guard them from all harm and danger of body and soul; sustain and comfort those as home, especially in their hours of loneliness, anxiety, and sorrow; prepare the dying for death and the living for your service; give success to our arms on land and sea and in the air; and grant unto us and all nations a speedy, just and lasting peace. Amen.

— Prayer in Time of War

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