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Memorial Day - USA

By Mickster269 ·
First off, I will state that I am a Veteran of the US Military. XII Airborne. I wasa 74F - Software Analyst. Soon to become a 74B. I programmed in ADA. I chose to serve. That is a story for a different day.

Second. No matter how much you disagree with the current US Adminstration's policies, (and I do), we must remember that the individuals that carry out the plans and ideas of any administrations are... average joes, just like us.

Finally- They answered the call of 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country'. Some of us answered the call. Some of never came home.


In the middle of winter .. in the dead of night ... A single cadet emerged from the Normandy sally port and silently crossed the concrete apron, stopping inches from the snow which still covered the Plain. He stared northward into the frigid blackness, past Battle Monument and on up the Hudson Valley. He stood at Parade Rest, bracing himself against the biting wind that bore down the river, picked up speed through the narrow weir formed by Storm King Mountain and Constitution Island, slowing as it crested Trophy Point, and finally picking up speed again as it raced across the Plain.

A few seconds later, another cadet stepped forth from the Corridor sally port to the West, crossed the apron and took up on eastward vigil. Soon others, from plebes to First Captain, followed by ones and twos. The numbers of cadets staring out over the Plain began to accumulate gradually, like snowflakes during the first minutes of a storm, until they were standing more than ten deep from MacArthur Monument at one end of the barracks to Eisenhower Monument at the other.

Except for the few who were away on leave or official business, virtually the entire Corps of Cadets were present, and, despite the bitter cold, they were dressed in Dress Gray, the most traditional of cadet daily wear. There were no overcoats or parkas to keep them warm. They were not here to be comfortable. They were here to pay tribute to two of their own, Spencer Dodge and Curt Sansoucie, recent graduates who had themselves succumbed to the cold while in training for the profession of arms which these cadets would enter in the near future.

I stood with a small group of alumni in the shadows by the main door of Washington Hall. The First Captain had invited us to attend this special remembrance. We had no idea just how deeply each of us would be touched.

The outpouring of gray from the sally ports stopped as if on command. There was no rush of stragglers trying to beat the sound of Assembly, as there might be for a parade. This was a strictly voluntary formation, and they were not about to be late.

At precisely 2330 hours, the first crisp note of "Taps" cut through the darkness from a trumpet somewhere to the east. The cadets came to Attention and Present Arms without sound or signal, yet with a precision equal to the daytime crispness of a full dress parade. As the first three notes began to fade, a second trumpet, farther away, sounded the echo known as "Silver Taps." As the last notes rose into the night sky, the cadets returned to Order Arms with the same silent precision as before.

A group of about thirty cadets stood apart from the rest at the foot of the steps of Washington Hall. From their midst, there arose a soft hum that grew into the full, rich harmonies of the Alma Mater. In a single motion, all heads were bared in homage. At the third verse the volume rose with the phrase, "And when our work is done, our course on earth is run, may it be said, 'WELL DONE!' " The last two words were clipped off abruptly, sending another echo into the night sky before concluding softly, "Be though at peace." The final strains drifted over the Hudson.

Once again, silence fell over the apron for a brief moment until yet another sound came out of the darkness at the center of the Plain. A shrill, discordant wail rose as the drones of a bagpipe were pumped into action. The moment and the melody matched perfectly as the plaintive cry of "Amazing Grace" rang out through the night, first by just a single piper, then again with four pipes, as if to underscore the loss that was felt by all those assembled. The refrain was repeated one last time by a solitary piper as a universal air to bear two souls to heaven.

The silence returned, and the gray clad figures seemingly evaporated back through the sally ports. A few lingered, standing with heads bowed. One cadet knelt in prayer for his departed brothers. Finally, they too drifted away, and, as the scene returned to total stillness, we were awestruck by what had just taken place: a simple stark ceremony that spoke volumes about the bond among West Pointers and the sense of loss when members of the Long Gray Line are taken before their time. The cadet farewell is surely one of the most poignant, meaningful ceremonies held at West Point. I felt immensely privileged to have been there for it. Thank God it isn't repeated often.

Frederick C. Rice '60
(May 1995, Assembly)


I feverently hope that not one more life is lost to a war. I know that is a fool's hope. But this weekend, as we Americans fire up the grill, crack open a beer... I hope that we take a moment to remember those sons, brothers, fathers, sisters, and daughters that did what they had to do - with no regrets.

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Memorial Day Thoughts

by BFilmFan In reply to Memorial Day - USA

I am a veteran and served with the 3rd Battalion 187th Infantry (the Rakkasans) of the 101st Airborne Division and saw my first combat action in Operation Apache Snow at a little place called **** Ap Bia. That speck of dirt later came to be known as Hamburger Hill.

My thoughts for the upcoming Memorial Day are for my friends that are no longer with us to share in our joy and despair; triumphs and failures; thoughts and conversations. They may be gone, but they are not and will not be forgotten.

Some of the wisdom that I have learned over many years on being a soldier and citizen of America are summarized below:

"The cost of liberty is less than the cost of repression."

WEB Dubois

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

John 15:13

"Four things support the world: the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the good, and the valor of the brave."


"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."

Joseph Cambell

"Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored."

Daniel Webster

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Honor our VETS

by mjd420nova In reply to Memorial Day - USA

Not a day goes by that I don't think about those
who gave all for the liberties we enjoy and too
often take for granted. Not a day goes by that
I don't think about the fellow vets who did come
home but left pieces of our lives in some far off
foreign land. All gave some, some gave all.
As a Vietnam Vet, I converse daily with fellow
vets from all branches of the service and from
all the many conflicts that this nation has
enjoined. Many vets feel that mostly we never
gave as much as we would have liked, consoling
each other, and striving to make today better.
I thank GOD that we have the ability to try and
right the wrongs done by egotistic, self centered
leaders. When Monday comes, I will attend
Memorial services and ask God to protect those
who stand up to do what we cannot and to ask
for protection for my son who is on active duty
in the U.S.Navy. Many years ago, one of the
traveling walls was at the local vets cemetery,
I was unable to leave, I couldn't pass a single
panel without seeing a name of a fellow combatant
I'd know and served with. I was able to walk away
with renewed hope for the future generations that
this display will never be repeated. Somehow
TAPS turns me into a blubbering baby, as it
really hits home. After spending 6 months in
the Mekong Delta with less than 9 months in the
service, I came to understand what "out of the
frying pan into the fire" really meant.
God Bless all those who are on active duty
serving out country.

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Thank you Mickster

by Tig2 In reply to Memorial Day - USA

I was a Navy wife for ten years to a man who chose to serve for 22 years. I spent the entire marriage learning the secret tips that make Navy marriages even remotely survivable- numbering letters as I wrote them so that he would know what order to read in when he got three weeks of mail on the same day, driving him to the pier, learning to never put my faith in the sea schedule- it was bound to change, always did.

I got accustomed to shopping, not in grocery stores, but the NEX, being able to recite his SSN while forgetting mine, following rules of ettiquete that most had forgotten.

And over the course of ten years, growing so far apart from a man I dearly loved that I hardly recognised him anymore.

There are many in this country that have forgotten the sacrifices that a soldier or sailor makes for the honour of serving his or her country. There are many more who do not realise that the family of that soldier or sailor sacrifices as much.

Anyone looking will always be able to find my home. The first thing you see is the American flag, the second is a pink ribbon banner (go figure). Regardless of how hard the administration may try to screw things up, my faith is God and Country above all.

This is the country my Uncle died for in WW2. This is the country I gave up a marriage for in 95. And this is the country that I support and believe in.

I hope to never see the day that we forget that Memorial Day is not about taking Monday off. It is about rememberance- of those who served and came home, of those who served and went to their final home, of a country whose greatness is reflected by those men and women.

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