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Monday, May 30, 2005

The Unknown Soldier

You need not ever know my name
This unknown soldier seeks no fame

I'm here to bring out thought from you
May your heart see more than your view

America, we marched with pride
We gave our life, for you we died

How well we knew the time might come
When life could sound that final drum

Please think of us as life moves on
We tried so hard till that last dawn

Do let our spirit fill the land
Pass treasured freedom, hand to hand

God blessed this country with such love
Hold in your heart, abundance of

And when you stand before my grave
Think not of one, but each who gave

©2003Roger J. Robicheau

A Soldiers' Angel's Memorial Day

Soldiers' Angel Amber was kind enough to let me share her remarks from a Memorial Day tribute she was invited to take part in. I have added links to information on some of the individual Heroes she has mentioned.

Memorial Day Remarks: Prepared for 30 May, 2005

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Many of us will have the day off of work,will travel, relax with family and friends. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers. After World War I, observances also began to honor those who had died in all of America's wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.

Time in some ways has swallowed up this history, but it is important that we remember it. As many of you may know, this church has been a supporter of the Soldiers' Angels Foundation in our efforts to provide care, comfort, and support to our men and women in uniform. Soldiers' Angels has had the opportunity to care for many men and women deployed in support of the War on Terror. Greek philosopher Herodotus said that "In peace, sons bury their fathers; in war fathers bury their sons." The men and women we support show great courage in dangerous jobs, yet some of them do not make it home. We have come to know heroes, and we have lost them, as people have throughout our nation's history. Ideally, I could speak about the fallen warriors of all our wars, tell you their names, their families. However, time doesn't allow for this. I offer this tribute to our fallen soldiers, may the names and pictures represent all those who have fallen before and after. I wish I could tell you all of their stories, let you get to know them as I have through the operations of Soldiers' Angels. However, I can only share a few.

I can tell you about Glenn Watkins and how he volunteered to stay in Iraq after his year was complete to train the unit replacing his. At his memorial service, his commander said: "He was a quiet man, but we remember him for his humor. He was Jewish but he loved Christian rock and roll. He was a soldier, but he was no warmonger. He was lowly in rank, but his leadership, bearing, and sacrifice serve as the perfect model for every soldier here gathered today. He requited his duties as a man of God, a father, a friend, a leader, a soldier with shining honor. He accomplished his purpose. We loved him. We will always. Always honor the life he shared with us and try to emulate it. Because yes, we miss him, because he made us better. Like a beacon. We will use his life to help us navigate through our own.:

I can tell you about David Mahlenbrock, who only asked that his buddies play "American Soldier" by Toby Keith at his memorial, should he not make it home. Toby Keith played him that song at his funeral, and you will hear it today.

I can tell you about the unusual maturity seen in Gunnar Becker. How he understood his mission, and defended his decision to serve unwaveringly. He was killed two weeks before he was to return home. Gunnar, you touched my heart, may you rest in peace.

I can tell you about Jason Dunham who is remembered for his smile and for always standing up for his friends. Who promised his fellow Marine "I want to make sure everyone makes it home alive. I want to be sure yougo home to your wife alive," only days before his death. When a grenade was thrown in their battalion ranks, Jason covered it with his body. He lost his life, but kept his promise.

I can tell you about Sam Huff who was an unlikely soldier to her classmates. She loved music and was a drum major in the band. She loved two things with a passion, dancing and her fiancé Nick. Indeed, Sam was not your typical soldier. At 17 she told her parent's she had decided what she wanted to do in life, she was going to be a military police woman. They had to sign for her to enter early, because she did not want to wait. A fellow soldier shared this conversation. Sam said, "You know what Lathers? I could have been the next Gap girl. I had a modeling contract and everything. But no, look at me I'm in this country, wearing desert camo, carrying around a weapon wherever I go and fighting for my country." Always smiled and laughed after she said it. Then she would say, "I wouldn't change where I'm at for anything." Her Sgt. knew another side of Sam. He said, "Her thirst for knowledge sometimes overwhelmed me as a leader, leaving me scrambling to answer question after question," She was also a beautiful young lady, the kind that would turn heads in the mall. "You would be hard pressed to find a soldier that could learn and retain knowledge as fast as she did," James said. "If I wrote down every positive quality I'd want in a soldier, Huff would still be better. She was the kind of soldier that made being a leader in the Army fun." Sam Huff was killed three weeks ago, she was 18. The men and women you are about to see are fallen heroes. They represent all that have gone before. It is important that we enjoy ourtime off, our freedom this weekend, but it is also important that we realize its price. Memorial Day is to recognize Glenn, Jason, David, Gunnar, Sam, and all their brothers and sisters in arms that have fallen throughout history. This tribute is to honor these men and women. As you watch it, please look at the pictures, the names. Get to know these heroes, as best you can. They are more than statistics on CNN. Remember their families, remember their courage. Remember their faces, their friends still in harm's way that must go on without them, but most of all, remember their sacrifice.

They may have fallen, but they are not forgotten.

Thank you, Amber.

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WWI Vet Celebrates Memorial Day

Memorial Day parade organizers were considering using actors to represent veterans of World War I when they learned about Lloyd Brown, one of the last living veterans of the war. More... from

It is Just Another Memorial Day

received from Eileen

by Thomas D. Segel
May 24,2002

Well, it is here again. It is just another Memorial Day.

There were 25,325 citizens who gave up their lives during the American Revolution so people like you and I could spend our holiday at the Mall.

It is just another Memorial Day. Still, this will give the family time to be together and see the latest Star Wars movie at Cinema 16. We don't have time to remember 2,260 Americans died in the War of 1812.

Yes, it is just another Memorial Day. We wouldn't even get together for a family picnic, if those 498,332 men hadn't died for our right to do so, during the Civil War.

Oh, it is Memorial Day again. We would fly our flag, if we could remember where we stored it. But, those 2,446 American soldiers who gave up their lives during the Spanish American War don't really care if the flag is raised.

Memorial Day. They told us that 116,316 Americans went to their deaths during World War I and 407,316 more died in World War II. Facts like that are just boring history. To think about those deaths would put a damper on the big day at the auto races.

Oh, it is Memorial Day again and time to watch those old guys from the VFW and American Legion try to march with the flag and salute at local ceremonies. Why, they don't even have matching uniforms. And they are delaying the start of the big ball game. Anyway, who really remembers those 54,246 Americans who died during the Korean War they are honoring.

It is just another Memorial Day. We have almost forgotten about the 58,151 young men and women who died in the Vietnam War. A few drinks at the big holiday party today and they won't even be a shadow in our minds.

There have been twelve Memorial Days since the first shots were fired in the Persian Gulf and the War on Terror started. We don't know how many have died or how many more will earn their final reward. But, we do know the numbers are very small. Right now we need to worry about the rising cost of gasoline and the family trip.

It is just another Memorial Day. There is less harmony in government than there was after September 11th. There is a return to political correctness. Petty politics prevails. The blame game is in full swing.

There is only lip service given to our fighting forces of today and yesterday. The flag isn't flying as high or from as many flag poles.

Think about it America, Count those numbers of war dead again. Are you worth the price of those tombstones? This really is much more than just another Memorial Day!
On this Memorial Day, since a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought I would post a few that illustrate the price of Freedom....


Arlington National Cemetery

Gettysburg National Cemetery

Vietnam Veterans National Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Wherever you are today, in honor of our fallen heroes, eat, drink, be merry, but take a moment, just a moment, to bow your head and say
"Thank you."

Monday is Memorial Day, set aside to honor millions of fallen Patriots -- generations of American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen, who served their country with honor from 1776 to this day.

Please honor those uniformed Patriots who stood and fell by their oath in defense of our Constitution.

You can recognize fallen veterans and their families by joining with other Patriots placing flags at your nearest National Cemetery (generally done on Saturday before Memorial Day). Remember to pause at 1500 (your local time) on Memorial Day, and offer remembrance and prayer for these great Patriots.

Additionally, please show your support for our troops standing in harm's way today by signing "An Open Letter in Support of America's Armed Forces" at http://PatriotPetitions.US/USMIL

On behalf of our staff and National Advisory Committee, thank you.

Semper Vigilo, Paratus, et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Executive Editor,
The Federalist Patriot
Received from Christina...

The poet, Steve Mason, who wrote "Johnny's Song" - poems about Vietnam, died on May 25th. This was a poem he wrote and it seems appropriate to send it on. Christina

Shared at the Peace Memorial, Old Town, San Diego, Memorial Day, 1984

I just call him Johnny;
like in Johnny went off to war
and Johnny didn't come home.
And remember him,
like Johnny was a helluva ballplayer
and Johnny's folks
moved away that year--
some say, Minnesota;
but his name's still here
not two miles from his old high school
on a Peace Memorial
(which is a funny name for it.)
Sometimes, like today,
we read All the names
some call it "the reading of the names."
Me, I just call it Johnny's Song.
And as much as I love the words,
I've come to really hate the music...

Steve Mason

America - United We Stand - Excerpt for Memorial Day

I have posted previously about "America - United We Stand," a book due out in July. Below is something I wrote about a year ago, which may appear in the book. I thought it was worth a repost as my Memorial Day thoughts...

Why I love a Man in Uniform

From the way people say it, you’d think it was just one of those guaranteed things in life. The sun comes up in the morning, grass is green, and women love a man in uniform. Somewhere along the line, women just developed this affinity for fighting men. I don’t profess to know what lies in the depths of our evolutionary process, but I do know why I love them. And of course now, like never before, there are women in uniform. And I love them too. The reasons seem obvious to me, but, sadly are so often overlooked as to leave me dumbfounded. Allow me to explain…

I love them because they are brave. They stand in front of enemies I will never have to face, and say “This is the line. You go no further than here.” They face untold challenges and trials, and keep doing their jobs. They face gunfire, and mortars, and minefields, and RPG fire, and IEDs, and still they are there.

I love them because they have honor. They say “Ma’am” and “Sir.” They salute their superiors. Even in the horror of war, they do not sink to the level of the enemy. They do not drive bombs loaded with explosives into crowded markets. They do not fly planes full of innocent people into buildings. They do not drag bodies through the streets. In fact, they try to save a wounded enemy’s life as zealously as they would a comrade’s. They wear the flag of the United States of America with pride, and take seriously their status as representatives and protectors of our country.

I love them because they are ordinary, and yet so extraordinary; they are heroes. They are the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers of everyday people like me. And yet, they charge up hills, single-handedly killing snipers, silencing machine gun nests, and capturing enemy positions (2nd Lt. Ernest Childers, US Army, Oliveto, Italy, 1943). They voluntarily go into almost certain death to protect wounded comrades (Master Sgt. Gary Gordon, and Sgt. First Class Randall Shughart, US Army, Mogadishu, Somalia 1993). They show the enemy that they would rather die than give in, thereby inspiring other POW’s, and convincing their captors to become more civilized in their treatment (Then-Captain James B. Stockdale, US Navy, Vietnam, 1969). They steer vulnerable boats through blistering enemy fire to rescue Marines pinned down on a beach (Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro, USCG, Guadalcanal, 1942). They race through enemy terrain to save a wounded fellow soldier, shield him from grenades, and literally take a bullet for him (Pvt. 1st Class Oscar P. Austin, USMC, Vietnam, 1969). They make me believe that even I could make a difference.

There is something that happens to an ordinary person when they become a member of our Armed forces. They become a protector, a role model, a hero. And yes, there are occasions when that mortality, that inherent weakness of all humans, is visible. There are unpleasant incidents that occur so rarely as to be shocking, judged through the lens of haughty superiority so unfortunately common to those of us who will never understand what it means to be in the middle of combat. They are vilified for occasionally reacting to what the critics will never have to face, and yet, almost universally, they say nothing. Despite the cries of “baby killer” and “criminal,” and all the other darts thrown, they say nothing to return the enmity, nothing to return the caustic criticism of their outraged countrymen. Inexplicably, they continue to fight for our right to greet their efforts with disdain and hatred. I love them because even in the worst of circumstances, they remain Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.

I believe that they deserve gratitude, as well as latitude. I believe that they deserve our love, and the good judgment to keep our mouths firmly clamped shut when there is opportunity to give harsh commentary on something we will never understand. I believe that when they cross the line, they deserve to be judged by those who do understand, not taunted and demonized by those who never will. I believe that they deserve parades and celebration when they return from war, and when they return from peacetime activity. I believe they deserve yellow ribbons carefully tied around trees, letters and packages sent from people they don’t know through groups formed solely to support them. I believe they deserve signs in windows, on cars, on billboards, proclaiming our pride in each and every one of them. I believe that they have bought this with their blood, the sacrifice of life, and limb, the forfeiture of years meant to be spent watching children grow up and holidays meant to be spent with family. I believe we owe them more than we will ever be able to repay, but that we all have a duty to try. I believe we have an obligation to say “Thank You,” at least once, in whatever way we choose.

And whatever branch they are in, wherever they serve, whoever they are, I love them. They are the best of us. They are the reason we remain free, the reason we sleep without fear of invasion. They are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. And let’s face it; they do look darned good in those uniforms…

All excerpts from "America - United We Stand" posted here are the property of the publisher, and should not be reposted or redistributed without their consent.

Reported Missing in Action on This Day

Gerber, Daniel A.,Civilian aid worker; taken from The Leprosarium near Ban Me Thuot
Mitchell, Archie E., Civilian aid worker (WA); taken from The Leprosarium near Ban Me Thuot
Vietti, Elanor A., Civilian surgeon (TX); taken from The Leprosarium near Ban Me Thuot

Hatcher, David B., USAF (NC); Released by DRV February, 1973 - alive and well in 1998

Mehl, James P., USN (NY); Released by DRV March, 1973 - alive in 1998

Iodice, Frank C., USMC; Escaped June, 1968
Potter, Albert J., USMC; Escaped June, 1968 - deceased
Smith, Lewis P. II, USAF (PA)

Duke, Charles R., Formerly USAF, Civilian working for Dynalectron Corporation
Ishi, Tomohara, CBS Cameraman (Japan)
Mark, Kit T., Civilian working for Dynalectron Corporation

News Headlines - Memorial Day, May 30, 2005

Quote of the Day
The Gettysburg Address (from the Hay Draft)

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met here on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled, here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
-- Abraham Lincoln (delivered November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg)
Weirdest News Story of the Day:
Chicken's Ticket for Crossing The Road Gets Dismissed Associated Press
U.S. detains Iraqi Islamic party leader
Candidates loyal to Hariri sweep elections
Suicide bombers kill 20 policemen in Hillah
Mich. woman survives war, but dies at home
French voters reject first EU charter
Crazy Horse monument fundraising begins
White House researching potential justices

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq
Sudan crisis could widen, ex-rebel warns
Israelis nab 18 in computer espionage case
Iran demands Pakistan head explain remarks

The US News
Insurgents Kill 30 As Iraqis Crack Down
Iraqi minister warns fuel and electricity prices may rise in Iraq ...
Saddam pictures inappropriate, investigation continuing, says Myers
Over 30 Saudis repatriated from Syria after trying to enter Iraq
Death penalty returns to Iraq
Things in Iraq improving
Newspaper prints reported Aziz letters
Iraqi Forces Target Insurgents; 27 Dead
Big security sweep under way in Baghdad
Iraq Al-Qaida Leader Visited Iran
Iraqi forces launch crackdown; al Qaeda defiant
Lavrov and Rice Discuss Iraqi Conference, Iran and Terrorism
Iraq insurgency more sophisticated -US intelligence
Iraqi government says al-Zarqawi has been wounded


Various Sources
Baghdad's offensive against insurgents begins
U.S. believes Iraq terror chief wounded

Fox News
Two American Citizens Charged With Aiding Al Qaeda
Hariri Sweeps Lebanese Vote
Blast Rocks Afghan Embassy
S. Korea Students Injured in Anti-U.S. Military Base Rally
U.S. Arrests Head of Iraqi Islamic Party
Bombers Murder 20 Iraqi Cops
Iraqi Forces Launch Crackdown
Terrorists Gun Down Kurdish Official
Myers Defends Prisoner Treatment
Vets Help Wounded Soldiers Adjust
U.S. Is Grateful to Soldiers