Patterico's Pontifications

5/30/2016

Memorial Day 2016

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:00 am

[guest post by JVW]

In a year which has seen a great deal of sniping back-and-forth, both inter-party and intra-party, this is a day to pause and remember those who have nobly sacrificed on behalf of us all. The observance of the holiday dates back to the end of our Civil War, when freshly-bloomed spring flowers would be placed upon the graves of fallen soldiers. May 30 was chosen as the first officially recognized “Decoration Day” by a Union Army Veteran’s group, largely because May 30 was not the anniversary date of any particularly memorable battle and was thus neutral, though many Southern states continued to observe different dates for honoring their war dead.

After the First World War most states adopted May 30 as the official date and the Decoration Day holiday gradually became known as Memorial Day. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which permanently placed Memorial Day on the final Monday in May. Though it has also come to signify the beginning of summer and the end of the school year (when I was growing up, the high schools in my town held graduation on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend), and though it has been crassly co-opted by Memorial Day sales, running races, golf tournaments, swimming pool openings, and merchandising opportunities for Major League Baseball, it is nevertheless an appropriate moment to pause and reflect on those who have made the supreme sacrifice in service of our country.

If you would like to remember a fallen family member or friend, please feel free to do so in the comments.

– JVW

50 Responses to “Memorial Day 2016”

  1. My great-uncle was a tail-gunner on the Kate Smith, a B-24 bomber, shot down on August 1, 1943 on a raid in Ploesti, Romania. My uncle and the rest of the crew, with the exception of the co-pilot, were killed in action. In the picture at my link, I believe my uncle is squatting second from the right in the front row. He was only 18. My mom, born two months later, is named for him.

    JVW (eabb2a)

  2. JVW,

    Thanks for this post. It’s amazing to think your uncle at just 18 years old was a tail-gunner in such a dangerous time, and most assuredly, without any “safe space” to be found.

    Dana (0ee61a)

  3. Some gave all. I never know who to attribute that to.

    JD (7203ad)

  4. Further, at the risk of sounding peevish, as well as I should know better, I am nonetheless annoyed to see that Google, which managed to doodle everyone’s attention to various holidays, and birthdays of the known and unknown this month, was apparently unable to squeeze in a Memorial Day doodle. Because not all sacrifices made on your behalf are worth it…

    Dana (0ee61a)

  5. I had a great uncle (whom I never met) who died on the Bataan Death March

    Sickens me to see the big O apologize

    FLBuckeye (798bf2)

  6. Most of the posts at Borepatch for the last several days are appropriate links
    http://www.borepatch.blogspot.com

    kishnevi (22ac03)

  7. http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/55277/MARK-A-WENZEL
    My cousin Mark was a joy to be with as a youngster.

    mg (31009b)

  8. The great war took so many of my family, that my mother forbade the playing of any WW2 era music during our somber gatherings. It elicited too much pain in our elders (mostly women), who would openly weep at the memory of their sacrifices. Venimus, pugnavimus, et mortuus est. Almost no one came home.

    I do not know, but perhaps my mother was ashamed of my father for being in the merchant marines and coming home. Ashamed is too strong a word, I think, but neither she nor he spoke of his service.

    felipe (e0b003)

  9. Felipe, the Merchant Marine suffered as high a rate of deaths as any other branch of the service in WwII….and the deaths began almost a year before Pearl Harbor. According to this link in fact the death rate was worse than any other branch

    kishnevi (22ac03)

  10. Let me try that link again
    Possibly over 9000 deaths

    kishnevi (22ac03)

  11. My own family history doesn’t have heroes such as I have seen celebrated and remembered here. Veterans yes. Fallen veterans, no.

    Even so, I tip my hat to their service. They died not just for me, but for the people I don’t care for as well.

    They died for something better: the ideal of what we could be as a nation and people, and imperfectly are from time to time.

    It’s a good day to consider myself, and the sacrifices made for me. Perhaps even how I can be more deserving of them.

    On Facebook, a former student of mine posted a meme that read “When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences.”

    This is obvious and too often overlooked. It’s true for fallen veterans, and it is true for people mouthing off on the internet.

    As I say, a time to think of how to be more deserving of those sacrifices made. To “earn it” as in “Saving Private Ryan.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r8zgU7wE8w

    Best wishes and I salute those of you with such heroes in your families. And they are heroes.

    Simon Jester (b57e2d)

  12. He didn’t fall at Belleau Wood. He went on to live a long life. To Lance Corporal Cortezo, my great-uncle and paisan.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  13. Turner Classic Movies has been on target the past few days with war movies.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  14. #8 Felipe,

    Kishnevi’s right about the Merchant Marines. They were enormously important to the war effort. Be proud!

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  15. I have his discharge certificate framed and hanging on the wall. All my crap is boxed up. Maybe someday, if I prove myself worthwhile in a decade or two, somebody will put my crap on a
    wall.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  16. Master at Arms Second Class Mark Mayo, if you need a name.

    https://localtvwtkr.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/15-04-navy-releases-uss-mahan-ddg-72-investigation.pdf

    There is no such thing as a normal, routine watch. He expected to go home.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  17. Three liberty engines.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  18. My father fought in the 7th Division, 17th Infantry Regiment, K company on Kwajalien, Philippines, and Okinawa. In his unit there was a guy named Guria who I have a picture of posing with my dad. Guria was the guy my dad told me was killed by one of the guys in their company in a friendly fire incident. Guria was a messenger runner and was shot as he approached their unit. He was very well liked and they had to transfer the guy who accidentally shot him because they were afraid someone would kill him. Don’t know any more about him than that, don’t know his family, where he was from or anything. But thinking of him, the poor guy who made the mistake, and my dad this weekend.

    WTP (55cf79)

  19. Also, this guy. Father of a guy on my high school swimming team. Was in the running to be a Mercury astronaut. Died in a training incident with the USAF Thunderbirds. Had turned down three NFL football offers to join the USAF after college.

    http://ephsports.williams.edu/sports/fball/2012-13/releases/20121105jeu3v9

    WTP (55cf79)

  20. WTP, my dad’s sacred honor was to take pics Of the graves of dead. Heavy duty for a 17 y.o. Coastie. WWII. It’s what the families wanted, given they’d never visit them.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  21. The power of music… even in time of war: http://americandigest.org/mt-archives/grace_notes/the_power_of_music_jack_l_1.php

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  22. “It’s a good time to be a patriot. Your president just shat on the service members who fought in the Pacific War, as sure as any insult ever hurled. The US Marine with a face no older than a child’s, who died trying to assault a beach from the front, is no different than the Nippon soldier who bayoneted a 7 year old boy in China. You understand that, don’t you? That’s called morally evolving. I’m never too cool to respect the flag.”

    – Casey Klahn

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  23. Coronello, you’re a good man. But, you know this.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  24. I was watching midway on amc, and one is struck how perilously close the victory was, if the japanese carriers had not been loaded down with contact bombs, if they had more air cover, any of a number of happenstance events, would have shifted the outcome,

    narciso (732bc0)

  25. I’m never too cool to respect the flag.”

    – Casey Klahn

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0) — 5/30/2016 @ 4:35 pm

    J

    The prisoners of the Japanese called the flag the flaming red assh*le of Japan,

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  26. If, if if, narciso.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  27. I did have one relative who fought in vietnam, in addition to the one I subsequently discovered the value of jfk’s promises, that battle came home to him nearly 30 years later,

    narciso (732bc0)

  28. i just point out the remarkable character of that victory,

    narciso (732bc0)

  29. Power of Music
    Great story.

    mg (31009b)

  30. I must confess that story brought a tear to my eye, mg

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  31. Aguilas Aztecas.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  32. Had a big lump in my throat, Col.

    mg (31009b)

  33. WTP, my dad’s sacred honor was to take pics Of the graves of dead. Heavy duty for a 17 y.o. Coastie. WWII. It’s what the families wanted, given they’d never visit them.

    Yes, I have an uncle buried over in Tunisia. We have a picture of his grave. It’s something of a mystery as to how he died as he was a air corps mechanic/engineer/something and should have been relatively safe in December, 1944 in Tunisia. Was a second significant tragedy in my mother’s life after losing her father. Her other brother was driving landing craft for the Navy, possibly carrying my father to the shores of the Philippines and Okinawa. Yet he came home safe and the brother who was in Tunisia didn’t. Some sort of brain contusion or something. Never got a satisfactory answer from the military. No Purple Heart. My dad confidentially postulated to me that he might have died from a fight resulting from a card game. Who knows. Didn’t sound likely for how my mother described him, though.

    Also, that Chuck Salmon guy in my second link…Neglected to mention he was the college roommate of George Stienbrenner.

    WTP (55cf79)

  34. My family’s been here since 1752 and we’ve done our share of fighting. The last KIA we had was in WWII, an uncle in Germany. Everybody returned from Korea, Nam etc. We’ve been lucky because it’s like a family “thing” that all the men go into service.

    I realize there are folks who believe:

    “God Bless America”, too. Means nothing.
    Kevin M (25bbee) — 5/29/2016 @ 10:53 am

    But as for me, God protect our soldiers and God Bless America.

    Rev. Hoagie© (734193)

  35. Hoagie
    Thank you for your service.
    I may be wrong, but it don’t think Kevin M. disagreed with the sentiment,
    but rather was saying that anyone can say it with insincerity, that the individual’s saying it did not necessarily demonstrate any thing particularly patriotic by the person saying it.
    But I could be wrong.

    MD in Philly (6d89d7)

  36. Thanks, Steve, and thanks to you, Hoagie, Dustin and all the other veterans who grace these pages.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  37. turns out one person I know on another blog was a relative of these men,

    http://www.wearethemighty.com/articles/this-sea-battle-claimed-the-lives-of-5-brothers-in-world-war-ii

    narciso (732bc0)

  38. Don’t thank me. I didn’t do jack sh*t. If you don’t believe me, ask prowlerguy.

    http://www.edwinpriceramsey.com/

    He led the last US Cavalry charge, Philippine Scouts of the 26th Cavalry.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  39. WTP, my dad was a tug boat sailor.

    USCG Cherokee.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  40. My dad was part of the first combat action of the 104th Inf at Breda. He was captured the nite of Oct 26, 1944. After his recon platoon (daddy was platoon leader) returned information of a strong German position, the Co. Commander sent the unit right into it (no strategery here). Daddy and his entire platoon was knocked unconscious by US artillery fire and he woke up with a German boot on his neck. He was eventually taken by train to Oflag 64 in Szubin Poland (650miles). As the Russians advanced on Szubin, 7 columns were marched out of Szubin headed for various other POW camps in Germany. Pattons son-in-law was in one column. My dad was in another, Jan 1945, snow storms, 230 miles force march to Stalag IIIA near Lukenwald. Built for 12K men, it now contained over 50K prisoners, little food. The Russians “liberated ” Stalag IIIA in April 1945. As more of the Russian army passed thru, they took what little food there was. Daddy also was told that the prisoners would be taken to Odessa. Daddy was 30yrs old, knew being taken to Russsia was NOT GOOD. He and French officer escaped under a fence, hiding in the daytime, and traveling west at nite, finally were repatriated to American lines near Halle.

    sd Harms (c7dded)

  41. sd If half of what you’re saying is true I’m an admirer of your
    dad.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  42. …Mendota was built by the Coast Guard yard at Curtis Bay, Maryland, one of only two Owasco class vessels not to be built by Western Pipe & Steel. Named after Mendota Lake, Wisconsin, the ship was commissioned as a patrol gunboat

    …USCGC Mendota (WHEC-69), in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 1966

    There is so much I could say.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  43. Harms.
    My father was a platoon leader in H Co 2/415, 104th Infantry Division. Timberwolves. None of his Purple Hearts were fatal.
    I discovered that three towns in Holland have renamed streets after the Timberwolves. You can google earth them by searching for “Timberwolfstraat”. My father was pleased to see them shortly before he passed. And there’s a “GeneraalAllenweg”, as well.
    When I got to Benning in 69, the block of instruction on night fighting and night operations was opened by a long lessons-learned from the 104th Division.

    Richard Aubrey (472a6f)

  44. Well then. Here’s to having fathers worth being proud of.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  45. It seems appropriate. Given Fathers Day is coming up.

    Steve57 (e33d44)

  46. Steve. Couldn’t be prouder. We had The Honors when he passed. Can’t stand much more of that. Had five in the last three years. One I didn’t know.
    I like the Dutch for a number of reasons. Turns out that the Netherlands American Cemetery is the only one in the system which is fully subscribed. That is, each grave has a local family looking after it and there’s a waiting list. That’s more than seventy years.
    Youtube has a piece on each overseas cemetery. It’s about three minutes. Under American Battle Monuments.
    Saw a pic of Dutch kids putting flowers on the graves. And the school kids sing The Star Spangled Banner, in English, each year.

    Richard Aubrey (472a6f)


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