Always Remember, that Day in December!

December 7, 1941 photo

Today, December 7, 2015, is the 74th anniversary of that “…day that will live forever in infamy” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it.  The below was written by my good friend, Jeff Morley.  He has described that day and its remembrances far better than I could.  His essay is published here with his permission.

By Jeff Morley, Guest Contributor

Today some 74 years ago in history, the USA was dragged kicking and screaming into war. Before then, we told the Axis powers to leave us alone and Churchill told us he needed our help. If the Axis Powers had paid attention to what we’d told them, England, France, and practically all of Western Europe with a good portion of Eastern Europe along with Africa would have had a drastically different history, a much darker history at that for most of those places. But the Axis Powers paid us no heed. We said don’t mess with us and they delivered one hell of a sucker punch to us in Hawaii on a sleepy Sunday morning. They should not have done that. They should have left this peace loving nation alone.

The world should never forget December 7th of 1941…unfortunately, most of the world has, to their peril. The United States should not either…unfortunately too many of our people have, to our peril.

I thank the US Navy for their sacrifice that day and I honor the sacrifice of our service men and women today in remembrance of that day “that will live forever in infamy”

Remember Pearl Harbor, remember the sacrifice of those brave sailors while you say a prayer for our men and women making the same sacrifices today, but most of all, teach this next generation about our past and the wounds of our predecessors.

God bless the warriors that guard our seas today, God bless the memory of those that guarded our seas yesterday.

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50-Year Anniversary in the US Navy

Today is the 50th anniversary of the day I joined the US Navy.

I raised my right hand and swore to defend the US Constitution August 31, 1965. That naive 19-year old had never been out of deep East Texas, never flown on an airplane, and certainly never thought about seeing the world. It would be another 120 days due to the Delayed Entry Program, before I departed East Texas for Navy Basic Training in San Diego, arriving there the night of December 28, 1965.

Today is also the 28th anniversary of my retirement from the US Navy. I retired in 1987, 22 years after originally joining in 1965.

In between, the Navy allowed me to travel the world and see cultures and things I never would have had an opportunity to see otherwise. I passed through or was stationed in: California, Florida, New York, Hawaii, Alaska, and Indiana, as well as: Japan, Guam, Okinawa (before it was given back to Japan in 1972), Nova Scotia, Scotland, England, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

My two sons were both born overseas in Scotland and Okinawa, and attended school in Italy, getting an education that would not have otherwise been possible, were it not for the US Navy.

I made friends all over the world in all five branches of the US military services, as well as other countries. Many of these remain friends of mine today.

What a wonderful ride it was. Today is an important day in my life.

Navy Veteran patch

Memorial Day, 2015

Remembering Their Sacrifice

Today is Memorial Day, 2015. Many people forget that this is a day to remember the fallen, those who gave their last full measure of sacrifice for our Nation and for their comrades-in-arms. The following essay was written and posted by my good friend, US Navy Retired Chief Petty Officer Robert N. (Bob) Jenkins. I thought it said it all, in a MUCH better way than I ever could and so I am borrowing his essay and re-posting it here. Today, when you are tempted to “thank a vet” for Memorial Day, I hope you will remember Bob’s words here. Thank you, Shipmate Bob Jenkins.

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Pardon me for getting on a soapbox for a minute, but I want to draw a distinction between Memorial Day and other patriotic holidays. Many earnest and sincere well wishes are sent out to all members, past and present, of our nation’s armed forces on Memorial Day. Most of these wishes should be sent on Armed Forces and/or Veterans Day. Memorial Day is meant for paying homage to those who have given their life in service to our nation and the freedom we enjoy.

The origin of Memorial Day dates back to the Civil War. There are many stories from those first years’ observances that illustrate the true purpose of this important day to honor those who died in service to this nation. Civil War deaths account for nearly half of the 1.2 million American Soldiers who died in our nation’s wars. It’s no surprise that a tradition known as Decoration Day was borne out of the tragic loss following the Civil War.

According to historians, on April 1865 former slaves helped recover 257 Union Soldiers from a mass grave in a Charleston, S.C. racetrack, a site that had served as a Confederate prison. After the Soldiers were properly buried and the area fenced in, Charleston’s residents gathered, sang hymns and laid roses on the graves.

In 1866, in Columbus, Miss., a group of women decorating the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle, noticed the barren graves of Union soldiers and the women placed flowers on those graves, as well. The practice was repeated at multiple gravesites during the period.

After World War I, the observance was expanded to honor those who died in all American wars, and volunteers began placing small American flags on each grave at cemeteries across the nation.

From its origin to the evolution of Memorial Day observances today, one key premise remains. It is a moment in time that we all should stop, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to this country.

Today, the American flags marking each grave at cemeteries across the nation represent an intangible devotion. Words can never express our gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our armed forces—and that of our Gold Star Families. We are forever indebted to them. We honor them by upholding the standards for which they fought so valiantly.

I urge everyone to remember the special significance of Memorial Day and what makes it so special and different from other patriotic holidays. What our fallen have paid, is a debt we cannot repay ourselves except in the honor and respect we show them.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 (KJV)

Monday, May 25th, is Memorial Day, 2015

Vietnam Memorial

This Memorial Day, remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Delta Airlines Handles Military Remains with Respect

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Editor’s Note: There is a lot of false information about this video circulating the Internet.  The following explanation accompanied this video and gives the true details behind it.

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My name is Brian McConnell, I work for Delta Air Lines and coordinate the Honor Guard program for the military fallen, however the information put out by most people sharing this video is incorrect. I know it has been shared with the heading “Watch what Delta does for Fallen Soldier and his K9” but that info is incorrect.

The truth is, the first fallen coming off the aircraft, covered in the U.S. Flag is a soldier missing over 63 years from the Korean War who was identified and was being returned to his family, the second and smaller box was actually additional bone fragments of a soldier who was already sent home and buried, they were to go and be interned with that soldier.

When the video was first posted we had a description on the video but as you are probably aware of internet “trolls” got on it and started some very vile comments and disrespectful comments. Some were very hurtful to our military so rather than have the families who have lost a loved one have to see them we shut off the comments,

So when it was shared “millions” of times, somebody assumed it was a current conflict soldier and his K9 companion. I have posted in many of the video comments that this is incorrect but when my comment is 8 pages down, nobody sees it.

Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, Jr. on Chief Petty Officers

Admiral Bull Halsey

Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, Jr., US Navy

At the end of WWII, all the towns and cities across the country were looking for a “Hero” to celebrate America’s victory with, Los Angeles chose Admiral Halsey and had a ceremony on the steps of the LA County courthouse to honor America’s hero and at the end of it when Admiral Halsey was leaving, they had a line of sideboys.


The sideboys were active duty and retired Chief Petty Officers that
had been brought in from all over the country who had served with
Admiral Halsey at one point in their careers.


Admiral Halsey approached one of the retired Chiefs, and they winked
at each other.


Later on that evening at a reception for Admiral Halsey, one of the civilian guests at the event asked the Admiral about the wink he shared with the Chief. Admiral Halsey explained, “That man was my Chief when I was an Ensign, and no one before or after taught me as much about ships or men as he did.


You civilians don’t understand. You go down to Long Beach and you see those battleships sitting there, and you think that they float on water, don’t you?”


The guest replied, “Yes, sir, I guess I do.”


To which Admiral Halsey stated, “You are wrong. They are carried to sea on the backs of those Chief Petty Officers.”

— ADMIRAL WILLIAM F. “BULL” HALSEY, JR.

Memorial Day, 2007

Contributed by AGCM Fred Baillie, USN, Ret.

Memorial Day, also called Decoration Day, is a patriotic holiday in the United States. It is a day to honor Americans who gave their lives for their country. Originally, Memorial Day honored military personnel who died in the Civil War (1861-1865). The holiday now also honors those who died in any war while serving the United States.

Memorial Day is a legal holiday in most states. Most Northern States and some Southern States observe Memorial Day the last Monday in May. This date was made a federal holiday by a law that became effective in 1971. Most of the Southern States also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates the last Monday in April as Confederate Memorial Day. Alabama celebrates on the fourth Monday in April. Georgia observes this holiday on April 26. North Carolina and South Carolina celebrate it on May 10. Virginia observes the holiday on the last Monday in May. Louisiana observes it on June 3, and Tennessee has a holiday called Confederate Decoration Day on that date. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day on January 19.

Observance

On Memorial Day, people place flowers and flags on the graves of military personnel. Many organizations, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and fraternal groups, march in military parades and take part in special programs. These programs often include the reading of Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” Memorials are often dedicated on this day. Military exercises and special programs are held at Gettysburg National Military Park and at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. In addition, to honor those who died at sea, some United States ports organize ceremonies in which miniature ships filled with flowers are set afloat on the water.

Since the end of World War I, Memorial Day has also been Poppy Day. Volunteers sell small, red artificial poppies in order to help disabled veterans. In recent years, the custom has grown in most families to decorate the graves of loved ones on Memorial Day.

History

Several communities claim to have originated Memorial Day. But in 1966, the U.S. government proclaimed Waterloo, New York, the birthplace of the holiday. The people of Waterloo first observed Memorial Day on May 5, 1866, to honor soldiers killed in the American Civil War. Businesses closed, and people decorated soldiers’ graves and flew flags at half-mast.

Major General John A. Logan in 1868 named May 30 as a special day for honoring the graves of Union soldiers. Logan served as commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War. They had charge of Memorial Day celebrations in the Northern States for many years. The American Legion took over this duty after World War I.

The Origins of Memorial Day

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of former Union soldiers and sailors – the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) – established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared it should be May 30. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The cemetery already held the remains of 20,000 Union dead and several hundred Confederate dead.

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant and other Washington officials presided. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

Local Observances Claim To Be First

Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.

Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day cere- mony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.

Official Birthplace Declared

In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There a ceremony on May 5, 1866, was reported to have honored local soldiers and sailors who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-mast. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day. The Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities. It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971 Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

Some States Have Confederate Observances

Many Southern states also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day January 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.

Gen. Logan’s order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 “with the choicest flowers of springtime” urged: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

The crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was approximately the same size as those that attend today’s observance, about 5,000 people. Then, as now, small American flags were placed on each grave – a tradition followed at many national cemeteries today. In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.

The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation’s wars: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”

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