have a safe memorial day everyone, enjoy the time with family. But don't forget the reason for this holiday...
> > > 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
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.<<