On this Memorial Day Holiday, many folks will be attending cookouts, and going to ball games. Some will be enjoying the day off by boating on the rivers or lakes, some will splash in the recently opened public and private pools. Many will be travelling by planes, trains and automobiles, taking advantage of a three day weekend. Life will go on in the USA as normal. But on this day, especially, we should all take a moment to remember those who gave their lives to preserve our American way of life. We must also never forget those brave men and women who are presently serving in our military forces. Many are in harms way today as we fight on two fronts against an insidious, yet invisible enemy in an ongoing war on terrorism.
On Monday our President will place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, to acknowledge the sacrifices made by our veterans in all wars. Earlier today, in Kabul, Afghanistan, active duty troops have already had a memorial service for their fallen comrades. Across the river in Ironton, Ohio, the streets will be lined by hundreds of people to view the longest continually running Parade in America - the 139th Annual Ironton Memorial Day Parade. Ceremonies like these will be held on military installations, in cemeteries, parks, and streets of big cities and small towns all across America today. This is fitting and proper because of the many veterans who gave "their last full measure of devotion" while fighting various enemies under the Stars and Stripes that represented their homes, families, freedom, and American way of life.
May we never forget the sacrifices they (and their families) have made for us.
My own family has had its share of men who have served, and I am proud of them all. My great grandfather, Cumberland Adkins (Sr.) a Civil War soldier, and my grandfather, Caudle Adkins, Sr. served in the Army in WWI. He was gassed in the Argonne Forest and eventually died of lung cancer at a relatively early age. Dad (Caudle, Jr.) and his older brother "Buster" served in the US Navy during WWII. Dad's younger brother, Sammy, enlisted in the Air Force during the mid 50's. An uncle on my mother's side, Jerry "Bob" Stidham also served in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. My brother, Bruce and I both had Viet Nam era service - he in the Navy and I in the Air Force.
On Linda's side of the family the heritage is just as rich. Her Grandfather, Cornelius Bowling was a WWI Doughboy, his brother, Andy, was held as a POW by the Germans. Linda's father, Burgess, served under General Patton, taking part in invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy during WWII. Her uncle, William Smith, Jr, (a Marine) was the only family member to die while on active duty - although his death was not combat related. Linda also had several cousins who proudly served in the Armed Forces.
My brothers in law, Danny, Burgess Ray, and Bob Bowling were also veterans. Danny was an Airman, stationed in England and Langley AFB, Virginia. Burgess Ray (who later died in a mining accident) did two tours of duty with the Marines in Viet Nam and served for several years as a Marine Recruiter. Bob, also a Marine, was injured while on duty, just before his discharge in the early 70's. A couple of my nephews have also served - young Dan Bowling and Christopher Bennett also served in the Air Force. My younger son, Benji, enlisted in the US Marine Corps and faced enemy fire in Kosovo.
That's the way it has gone down through history. There have been a number of career military men and women during the history of our nation, but the vast majority of our veterans have been like those listed above - average Americans who give of themselves to serve their country. Many of them never returned to their families and homes. Let us never forget their great sacrifices on our behalf, nor the unimaginable loss suffered by their families.
All gave some, some gave all.