[May 27, 2019] Now that I’m approaching the 7th-decade mark of my life, I no longer remember how many memorials to fallen comrades I’ve attended. Memorial Day 2019 will be special for me as I attend, once again, ceremonies and parades with our local Boy Scout Troop to remember those who died in battle or from wounds sustained in battle.
Friday, I attended a “Veterans Memorial Program”; sort of a pre-Memorial Day. There were plenty of dignitaries and prominent guests. The U.S. Air Force General asked what we thought someone killed in battle would ask of us if they could speak. I’d never heard this asked before but thought his answer appropriate. He said that we will never know but that they might say; “just remember us.”
My last war, the war in Iraq, does not compare to the combat of those in the 20th century. Our casualties were less, the danger of combat lower, and there were places that were safer than any large American city. When my wife wrote to me, she expressed her worries about my safety. I told her that combat in Baghdad produced fewer casualties in one day than a corresponding day in Washington, D.C. This was not the case for several major offensive battles in Iraq.
In early 2007, I was attending a memorial service for three U.S. Army Engineers killed in action the previous week. Being a senior officer, a chair had been saved for me up front. Next to my chair were several other chairs with the names of four Colonels and a Command Sergeant Major. They never missed a memorial service, but that day they were not there. Later I was told that the Blackhawk helicopter they were riding had been shot down and all aboard were killed. All were my friends; they are now buried in Arlington Cemetery.
My uncle, who was at the Battle of the Bulge, saw over 40 of his friends killed in just one day. This battle was about the common foot soldier with most action being face to face with the enemy. More than 19,000 Americans were initially killed in the battle.
I’ll remember the fallen. Enjoy the extended weekend. I plan to.