Patterico's Pontifications


Memorial Day

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 12:34 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

Robert Parry, a friend of this site currently deployed with the Army in Afghanistan, sends along the below photograph, taken in Baghdad in September 2005. The soldier memorialized in the center is Sergeant Paul Neubauer, who is buried at the Veterans’ Cemetery here in Los Angeles.

We are often told but just as often need reminding: freedom isn’t free.


8 Responses to “Memorial Day”

  1. Greetings:

    Back in the summer of last ’68, I was doing my military service down in Texas, which, after the Bronx, is the place I’d most like to be from. For several months, I was assigned to the base’s funeral detail. We would provide pallbearers and a rifle squad for those requesting military funerals in the local area.

    Military-wise, it wasn’t bad duty. On the days when we weren’t scheduled for a funeral, we would spend several hours practicing our “drill & ceremonies” and a couple more squaring away our uniforms and equipment. On funeral days, we would head out as early as necessary on a 44-passenger bus, often in civilian clothes or else fatigues with our first-class uniforms and equipment in tow. Often we would change into our duty uniforms at the funeral home, once in the casket display room, or on the bus itself.

    It being Texas and the Viet Nam war being in full swing, we often had several funerals a week to perform. There was a certain spectrum from the World War graduates through the Viet Nam casualties. The former might involve a local veterans’ group and an afterward BBQ or such. The latter were somewhat more emotionally raw as most of us were facing our own deployments in the near future.

    Two funerals of the latter sort have stayed with me through the years. The first was of a young Private First Class who had been MIA for several months before his remains were recovered. I was on the pallbearer squad that day and when we went to lift the casket, it almost flew up in the air. There was so little of the young soldier left that we totally overestimated the weight we were lifting and almost looked decidedly unprofessional.

    The other was that of a Negro Specialist 4th Class. I was in the rifle squad that day. In the rendering of military honors, there is a momentary pause between the end of the (21-gun) rifle salute and the beginning of the playing of “Taps”. It is a moment of profound silence in most cases. During that moment, the young soldier’s mother gave out a yowl from the depths of her grief that so startled me that I almost dropped the rifle out of my hands. That yowl echoes within me still.

    I’ll readily admit that, as a result of my experiences, I became much imbued with a sense of duty and respect to and for our fallen. Hopefully, today, when our media do their reporting they will show some of the same and let “Taps” be played out in its entirety. It would be nice for a change.

    11B40 (554e24)

  2. I wish I could take credit for these words and comments, but they belong to another —–

    The first really serious thought I had about the war in Vietnam came in, strangely enough, my Algebra class, when our teacher, a retired Colonel who had taught at the War College, pierced the small minds he taught by writing simple quotations on the blackboard each day. Only rarely did he ever comment about them. The day I read this quotation my world began to open. The words said simply,

    “Somewhere out there a man died for me today, that I might live free. And I must ask and answer, ‘Am I worth dying for?'”

    The entire article can be found at:

    Robert N. (82cc9a)

  3. Hand, Salute. Rest well, heroes.

    gm (8cd8aa)

  4. May God bless those who serve and watch over and protect them and their loved ones. We owe those who made the ultimate sacrifice a debt that can never be repaid. They are all heroes.

    GeneralMalaise (67df13)

  5. God bless. That is all.

    JD (bd3d05)

  6. For those who gave their hopes, dreams, and lives, so that I might celebrate mine in freedom — may God’s blessings fall upon you again this day. I’ve decided to start saying “Blessed Memorial Day”, and hope that you’ve had one, too.

    Absent friends.

    htom (412a17)

  7. Our missing President (being so much smarter than everybody) decided not to honor our Nation’s Best at the Sacred Place set aside for that very purpose on this very day, every year.

    The Tomb of the Missing Soldier and all those it represents did not receive the Honor it was entitled to today.

    I’m guessing Abe Lincoln and Our Most Honored Veterans were a bit displeased. Looks like a certain little President had his little parade p!ssed-on.

    (Not sure about the thunder, but some say it sounded like voices above were saying: “Hell No!”)

    Pons Asinorum (b96aea)

  8. God Bless all those who served and fell so that we might tuck our children in at night and keep our promises of safety to them.

    You stood watch against the dictator’s henchmen, the king’s armies, and terrorist cowards. You did not allow them to enter our homes and take what they wish.

    Thank you, Brothers.

    Pons Asinorum (b96aea)

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