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Memorial Day 2010, personal.

They are the most egalitarian places in the nation, the National Cemeteries.  There they sleep in their serried ranks, dress-right-dress, Able Seaman next to Admiral, General next to Sergeant, their wives, and in some cases, their children with them.  Intermingled by faith, color, ethnicity, war.  Their proximity defined only by the last date on the stone.  To gain entrance, one has only to ask.  Or, in times of extreme need, answer the call when delivered.

Section 52, Leavenworth National Cemetery.

Wives and mothers...


Husbands and fathers.


If you're known by the company you keep - well, you could do much worse than hang around with a bunch of people who took some time out of their lives - or gave their lives - to be a part of something greater than themselves.

Leavenworth National Cemetery

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when the Armorer dances - for Mom and Dad, and everyone else.

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They Still Serve from Villainous Company on May 31, 2010 9:42 AM

If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. - Rudyard Kipling Just down the road from me is the battlefield of Antietam. It is hard to believe, looking over the now silent fields of... Read More



Back in the summer of last '68, I was doing my military service down in Texas, which, after the Bronx, is the place I'd most like to be from. For several months, I was assigned to the base's funeral detail. We would provide pallbearers and a rifle squad for those requesting military funerals in the local area.

Military-wise, it wasn't bad duty. On the days when we weren't scheduled for a funeral, we would spend several hours practicing our "drill & ceremonies" and a couple more squaring away our uniforms and equipment. On funeral days, we would head out as early as necessary on a 44-passenger bus, often in civilian clothes or else fatigues with our first-class uniforms and equipment in tow. Often we would change into our duty uniforms at the funeral home, once in the casket display room, or on the bus itself.

It being Texas and the Viet Nam war being in full swing, we often had several funerals a week to perform. There was a certain spectrum from the World War graduates through the Viet Nam casualties. The former might involve a local veterans' group and an afterward BBQ or such. The latter were somewhat more emotionally raw as most of us were facing our own deployments in the near future.

Two funerals of the latter sort have stayed with me through the years. The first was of a young Private First Class who had been MIA for several months before his remains were recovered. I was on the pallbearer squad that day and when we went to lift the casket, it almost flew up in the air. There was so little of the young soldier left that we totally overestimated the weight we were lifting and almost looked decidedly unprofessional.

The other was that of a Negro Specialist 4th Class. I was in the rifle squad that day. In the rendering of military honors, there is a momentary pause between the end of the (21-gun) rifle salute and the beginning of the playing of "Taps". It is a moment of profound silence in most cases. During that moment, the young soldier's mother gave out a yowl from the depths of her grief that so startled me that I almost dropped the rifle out of my hands. That yowl echoes within me still.

I'll readily admit that, as a result of my experiences, I became much imbued with a sense of duty and respect to and for our fallen. Hopefully, today, when our media do their reporting they will show some of the same and let "Taps" be played out in its entirety. It would be nice for a change.

My parents and I visited my Mom's parent's graves this morning.  Both are WWII veterans... both are remembered and missed greatly.
As I watched 'Taking Chance' again, I needed as many tissues as on the first viewing.  As the movie intended (I think), you realize that you are crying not just for LCpl Chance Phelps or for his family, but for every fallen service member, and for all the families.