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What Memorial Day Means

Joe Galloway has the best description about Memorial Day that I've read in a long time:

...This Memorial Day I will be thinking particularly of the five children of the two Army pilots of a Kiowa Warrior helicopter shot down in Mosul, Iraq, on Jan. 13. Their fathers, CWO3 Mitchell K. Carver Jr., 31, of Charlotte, N.C., and CWO2 Kyle E. Jackson, 28, of Sarasota, Fla., were flying cover for a small three-vehicle patrol of Stryker armored vehicles at the time.


I was riding in one of those Strykers at the time and was at the crash site within minutes. I watched their broken bodies were gently eased out of the shattered helicopter - Carver already dead, Jackson alive but barely. He died on the way to the hospital.


At that moment I knew that within a matter of a few hours Army sedans with a chaplain and a casualty notification officer would be pulling up outside houses bearing the news that would shatter happy lives. I knew that those young children would carry holes in their hearts all their lives - holes where a father was supposed to dwell...

Be sure to read the whole piece.

Tomorrow marks a dark anniversary for my friends as well.  We lost a good friend three years ago (on Memorial Day 2003 which fell on the 26th) - Major Mathew Schram.  If you've never read about Mat Schram's Memorial Day, please click the link.

I miss him.  And I probably won't post much tomorrow.

I wrote this last year:

Opening the Gates of Heaven

The words to "Taps" are:

Day Is Done,
Gone the Sun,
From the Earth,
From the Hill,
From the Sky,
All Is Well,
Safely Rest,
God Is Nigh

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"...

Of course, Memorial Day is about remembering the sacrifices that our military men and women have made over the last 229 years.    We are still a young nation, but one that has made many sacrifices to remain free.  We should also take time to remember the families who have lost loved ones.

I have focused on just a few of the fallen over the last few years.  I've lost three good friends during the War on Terror.  And I write about the others to ensure that we don't forget their sacrifices - I do that for me as much as for anybody.

I can't speak for the friends of the many others who have fallen, but for Mat, Cooter, and Mike, I can say this -

It's important to remember them, and it's just as important to enjoy yourself this weekend.  To spend time with your family and friends. Have a beer while grilling Wisconsin brats (Schram-bo!) in the backyard while watching your kids play tag. 

What better assurance to them they did not die in vain?

Enjoying your freedom and understanding it's value is the best way to honor the sacrifices of my friends.

That's the way they'd want you to spend Memorial Day...