It has been said that Memorial Day is a time for Rememberance and Thanks, and I agree....... Two men, and their Service to our country, mean a lot to me, and mention of them today is the least that I can do........
First, my late (also older) Brother, John R. Woods Sr., "Ray" to all who knew him. Although we were Typical kids growing up we ended up moving in different directions after passing Sixteen and wrapping up School. Ray joined the United States Marines and served a four year tour in the Pacific. Folks have often said "once a Marine, always a Marine" and that was Ray. Returning from his Tour, he landed a job with the Prince Georges County FD, and went on to spend 30 years as a Firefighter and Officer. His "USMC Pride" was noticeable in both his professional and personal lives, and one only had to work "His" house for one shift to see it first hand. He made a positive impact on many people and their careers in the Fire Service. His passing in 2006 from Cancer was way too soon........ His legacy still continues though, as his Son, John R. Woods Jr., is serving as a Battalion Chief in a Mid-Atlantic Combination Department.
Second, My Grandson, U.S.Army Infantryman David O'Connor...... Dave finished school and wanted to become a Firefighter. He also had an interest in the Military, and ended up enlisting in the Army, thinking that he could gain some experience there that might help him as he sought a Firefighting job after his enlistment was up. After training, waiting around for assignment, and on a Saturday in December getting married, Dave was off to Afghanistan. While there, he picked up a Purple Heart for a knee wound, and several other medals as well. He's OK, still serving today, and still planning for a Fire Service Career eventually.
Thank You both for all you've done for our great Nation........
Thank you Harve for reminding us what this day is about.
And to all of the Men & Women that have given so much to our nation,
Thank you all for your service!
We enjoy our freedoms because there are brave men and women made the supreme sacrifice and there are brave men and women who continue to serve on the front lines.
I received this as part of a more politically motivated email, but as an exerpt, it seems appropriate:
Gen. Joe Wheeler is one of the few senior Confederate officers allowed to sleep in a grave at Arlington.
Like all our national summer holidays, the day is observed mostly with picnics, the occasional burst of fireworks creasing the night sky, raucous noise billed as music and the swilling of enormous quantities of brewed beverages. Memorial Day is different, if only by degree. But its origins are lost in argument, its original purpose shrouded in the fog of forgetfulness. Several cities in both North and South claim to be the holiday’s birthplace, but the ceremonies and parades that once made it a holiday second only to the Fourth of July have been relegated to the dustbin of memory.
President Lyndon Johnson four decades ago declared Waterloo, N.Y., to be the official birthplace of Decoration Day (as it was first called) but the women of the South decorated the graves of their fallen sons even before the Civil War ended, commemorated in a hymn, “Kneel Where Our Loves Lie Sleeping,” published in 1867. Memorial Day was first “officially” declared the following year by Gen. John A. Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic—not an army at all, but a forerunner of the American Legion—who rode across the Potomac on May 30 of that year to decorate the graves of both Union and Confederate dead. His decoration of Southern graves was not widely appreciated by the Radical Republicans who presided over the capital that time of bitter division.
The most persuasive claim for the origin of a decoration day is made by Columbus, Ga., where the widow of Col. C.J. Williams of the 1st Georgia Infantry tended his grave with their little daughter, after he died in the early days of the Civil War. She visited his grave every day, to sit in reflection of “the mystic chords of memory” while their little girl plucked weeds from unmarked graves nearby and covered them with flowers. She called them the graves of “my soldier boys.” A short time later, as a contemporary account told it, “the dear little girl was summoned by the angels to join her father,” and the widow, now childless, took up the little girl’s practice of caring for soldiers’ graves. In March 1868, about the time that Gen. Logan was first thinking of visiting Arlington with his flowers, the Widow Williams suggested setting apart one day every year as the occasion for “love to pay tribute to valor.” She suggested April 26, and to this day in hundreds of graveyards across the South women pay separate tribute to Southern valor by placing tiny Confederate battle flags at the foot of the graves of their honored dead.
From the beginning, the tribute to the memory of sacrifice was an attempt to bridge the partisan divide. Politicians in both North and South were eager to wave the bloody shirt come election time, and it was the women who were, as usual, the civilizing influence. But civilizing men, as most any woman is eager to tell you, is not always easy. The echoes of shot and shell that had summoned men to battle were barely beginning to fade when America stood at the cusp of war with Spain just as the century ended. Not everyone though it was a good idea to organize Southerners into an army so soon after Appomattox. Someone had the good idea of offering command to a former Confederate officer, and to Gen. Joe Wheeler, a hard-hitting cavalry commander from Alabama who briefly delayed Sherman’s torching of Atlanta. He and his troops fought well in Cuba, though in the din of battle at Las Guasimas he forgot where he was and rallied his men with the cry: “Let’s go, boys! We’ve got the damn Yankees on the run again.”
He died with his boots on in Brooklyn a decade later, pleased to parade in his uniform of Union blue, and he is one of the few senior Confederate officers allowed to sleep in a grave at Arlington. The flags of the two American nations whose uniforms he wore decorated his grave this year.
FWIW, Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, VA was first noted as the first place that graves were decorated, thus later being called Decoration Day.
I learn this in US History, back in the early 1950's!
I know, I'm a day late on this one. I was doin' my Memorial Day things, including remembering those that have gone before me.
The one in particular I think of every year, actually, most of the year, is my Grandfather SSgt Lelton H. Pittman of the U.S. Army 6th Infantry Division, 1st Infantry Regiment, Company B. This man is my hero. He served with one of the hardest fighting units in the Pacific Theater, going 180 days straight in combat with no relief. He landed on Luzon a PFC and a couple of days later was combat promoted to SSgt and awarded his first of two Bronze Stars. I could only hope to ever be as good of a man as him. I miss him very much as he died in '99. But he will always be my hero. This salute is for you Papaw.
Whenever I hear any of the younger guys bitching about having to deploy for 7 months to a year, I can't halp but remind them of the old schoolers that deployed for the whole war until they got enough points to go home and stay home. It gets them to shut up quick and in a hurry. :D