MEMORIAL DAY REMEMBRANCES


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Posted by Faye Bell on May 27, 2013 at 09:57:08:

      


MEMORIAL DAY THOUGHTS

I was reading through some information on MEMORIAL DAY and old memories from my childhood came to my mind. I certainly hadn't planned on doing this when I started to type this posting, but I think I'll share something with you ....

When I was a child living up North, we always referred to Memorial Day as DECORATION DAY and I did not really understand what it was all about until I became an adult. I just knew it was time to go back to Kentucky and visit the graves of my parents' families. This was always a dreaded time for me because it brought back scary memories of when, at 4-1/2 years old, we attended the funeral of my mother's youngest brother, James, who was killed during the Korean War (what they now -- for some reason or other -- wish to call the Korean "Conflict"). My parents had taken him into their home when he was 12 years old with hopes of giving him the opportunity of having a better life. (Note: This was something my father did for his siblings, as well as my mother's siblings, one at a time, although James was the youngest.) He, in their hearts, had become like their son. James, while on foreign land, was murdered and dismembered at age 21 years.

Although I was only 4-1/2 years old, I can still picture in my mind when I yelled for my mother to tell her the phone was ringing. She picked up the phone and answered the person who was asking her to verify her name, which she did, and then, in what seemed like a spilt second, she dropped the phone and just screamed and screamed .... Even right now I can close my eyes and remember that scene just like it was only last month.

My uncle, James, had already spent two years in the Army when he turned around and reenlisted again. His body, with whatever limbs they could find, was sent to my grandparents home in Kentucky (where he lived until he was 12). Back in those days, the casket would sit in the living room of the family for three days before burial would take place. Friends and relatives would come for those three days to express their sympathy, etc. This was my first experience with death and how it affected those families involved with the loss of a loved one. Both my parents were grief stricken and I was too young to understand why all of this was happening, and to this day, I still remember so many details about that time in my life.

Our soldier had a full military funeral with the 12-gun salute and I had never heard a gun being fired previous to that day. I was so frightened by the sounds of the guns and was so glad when they stopped. Little did I know how the death of James would affect my parents (and other family members) for so many years to come.

James' army trunk was sent to my parents, as our home was his last address the Army had before his death. I can remember coming home from school many times and hearing my mother crying down stairs, and this lasted for what seemed like several years. After the first three or four times, I stopped peaking my head around the corner to see why she was crying because it was always the same. She would have the Army trunk open, taking its contents in and out, while all the time sobbing for hours. I feel certain these memories will never leave my mind.

One of my most precious keepsakes is a beautiful Korean handmade robe James sent my mother just before his death. The robe, although it is 63 years old, still looks like it is brand new. My mother spent many, many hours with the robe spread out on her bed as she wept over the loss of her brother.

Both my husband (US Air Force) and my brother (US Navy) served our country during the Vietnam War era when our military personnel were ridiculed and spit at as though they had any choice in being thrown into the war. During that period thousands of young men were drafted and had no choice as to whether or not the war was right or wrong. We must always remember that without our brave warriors, there will be no liberty or freedom. Whether we believe in this war, or any other war, every brave warrior deserves our respect and appreciation for helping defend the freedom we enjoy today. We MUST always remember that FREEDOM IS NEVER FREE!

I can hardly imagine what it must be like these days for the parents, the wives, the children, other family members and friends who have to deal with grief when their loved one has paid the ultimate price for our freedom. I hope that everyone of you who are reading this posting will never have to know what that feels like ...

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BASIC FACTS ABOUT MEMORIAL DAY:

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday which occurs every year on the final Monday of May. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead.




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