"Remember The Heroes/ Who Fought For The Right To Choose!" --Sammy Hagar, from "Remember The Heroes" on VOA

To many folks, Memoprial Day means three things: Barbecues, Auto Racing (Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600), and the unofficial "First Day Of Summer" (though the Summer Solstice takes place on June 21st this year).

All well and good, mind--but does anybody really know what today and tomorrow are REALLY all about? Well, take a trip to your local cemetery and look at the gravestones. Alongside many of them are a small American Flag--and many of these gravesites were freshly manuicured by the family of the deceased.

For today, we honor those of our Armed Forces who gave their all--including their lives--in our nation's wars. There will be a wreath laid at the Tomb Of The Unknowns--honoring those who fought-and-died for our country, but were known only to God Himself. Similar ceremonies will honor our fallen ones from coast-to-coast. From Fort Rosecrans, to the Pearl Harbor Monument, to Arlington National Cemetery--today is the day that we should not only give thanks for our freedoms and our way of life. It is also the day that we should offer a prayer in rememberance for those who fought-and-died for God and Country.

In doing so, we must remember all of our fallen warriors, no matter which war they died in. Be it a popular war-or-not, each veteran still fought as ordered by his superiors in the Chain Of Command, up to-and-including the Commander-In-Chief at the time...and paid the ultimate price, no matter where he-or-she fought their final battle. As for those who came home to us sans pine box? They are the reminders of what war is all about--and what it can do to those who have seen action. They are the reminders that War is NOT some computerized video game, where the most you spend is wasted time in front of an "idiot box of the modern day."

No, my friends, General Sherman had it right when he said "War Is Hell." No person who has heard the screams of the wounded, the silence of the dead, the roar of artillery coming after them, or the crackle of flames after a napalm cannister lays their camp to waste, trully wants another go at it!

Strangely enough, it is those whom have never seen what war is truly about that seem to be the most ready to send our forces off to battle. It's scary to think about, and it often makes me wonder why they feel as they do. Do they not know that every warrior we lose in battle--be it by combat, disease, or suicide--is a human being whose life was cut to short? Or do they really give a whoop to begin with.

When you sign on with any of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines), or with the Coast Guard (part of the Department of Homeland Security, but chops to Navy control during wartime), you are basicly telling Uncle Sam that you are willing to give your very life in his service, if called upon to do so. The lousy pay, the sub-standard gear, the field rations that are regarded as "Meals Rejected By Everyone," the harsh life-regimentation, the mind-numbing discipline, the knowledge that you no longer control your destiny (up to a point), and the fact that you might be sent to fight-and-die in a far-away land (or worse yet, come back with limbs-or-mind gone)...yep, this is what you signed on for in the recruiter's office when you joined the Armed Forces!

However, every veteran (living and deceased) has answered their county's call. For that, we need to be gratefuly, just as they have the right to feel pride in serving Uncle Sam in a job where sudden death in a foreign land is a occupational hazard that they knew of beforehand--and accepted as the price of doing business. With one living veteran in our family (my father, HMCMC Robert B. Johnston, U.S. Navy (ret) (HMCMC is a Command Master Chief Hospial Corpsman (E-9), the senior NCO in a Navy Hospital or on-board ship)) and one now in the Mists of Time (SGT Melanie Marie Miller, U.S. Army Medical Corps, (dec)--my late wife), I am reminded of the sacrifices our veterans made to our nation. I also take pride in the fact that, unlike myself, they were able to serve. (And it was not for lack of trying, being rejected by the Army and Air Force for psychological reasons.)

So, for today and tomorrow, take a moment from your picnics, barbecues, and bonfires and remember just what today and tomorrow are truly about. Perhaps, if you are of the mind, offer up a prayer for those who fought for our nation, no matter where the battle was fought, or how they came home.

Just as they fought for us--take a few minutes and remember them in your thoughts and prayers!


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