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Memorial Day — Why Now?
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Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial DayThis is a picture from one of the columbariums at the Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place of many of those who served the United States since the middle of the 19th century.

That is my Father’s marker. He didn’t know those located around his marker, but they all shared service to their country as part of their life.

Jams O’Donnell’s recent post on his grandfather, reminded me of an obligation I have as soon as things calm down – to check on my great grandfather’s grave.

Alfred Mullen went a long way from driving teams pulling barges on the Erie Canal to being a soldier in the Philippines and China. He is buried in the Chalmette National Cemetery on the site of the Battle of New Orleans. The cemetery was damaged by Katrina, and I should go over and make sure his grave is put right.


1 Karen { 05.28.07 at 4:11 am }

Very nice place for your father to be…though I imagine not quite easy to do a graveside visit. My father would like something similar when he passes away – as befitting of his service to our country.

I Do have a most interesting notebook put together by my maternal uncle (my mother’s twin brother) and of his father’s service in WWI. After my uncle passed away i got this book, but much was in Polish…which I do not read. My Grandfather – He fought in the Polish Army but also did special project with the Americans and received a commendation from the US Military for these services. It wasn’t until I had a Polish friend who translated these items that I was able to follow the story. Plus, in the 1970;s and 80s my uncle went back to Poland and found the entire family and farms. I have the whole genealogy of who else is still in Poland from that side of the family. 🙂

2 Bryan { 05.28.07 at 10:01 am }

It’s nice to know who your people are, and what your personal history is. It shows the connections that people generally don’t know or think about.

3 jams o donnell { 05.28.07 at 11:04 am }

I must go to Arlington some time. I have an uncle buried there whose grave I should visit at least once:

Karnes, Donald E, b. 08/23/1928, d. 04/24/1999, US Air Force, SSGT, Res: Bloomsburg, PA, Plot: 66 0 5743, bur. 05/04/1999,

He was married to my mum’s sister. He lived here after he retired from the USAF in the 60s (lst served at Lakenheath). He had jobs on teh base until my aunt died then he decided to go back to the USA in 1989.

4 jams o donnell { 05.28.07 at 11:06 am }

Oh thanks tothe link to my post about my grandfather. He didnt survuve WWI by that long. He died in 1927 when dad was 18 months old

5 Bryan { 05.28.07 at 12:16 pm }

Jams, WWI took my great uncle Frank. He made it home, but the effects of a gas attack left him susceptible to chest infections and he died in the 1920s, not long after my Mother was born.

A lot of men lived through the war only to die from the experience within a decade.

6 Steve Bates { 05.28.07 at 6:07 pm }

Bryan, my thanks to your Father and the rest of your family for their service… and of course to you for your own. I am glad you are still among us.

A couple of times a year (sometimes depending on the number of hurricanes I have to pack up for), I take out my late father’s photo albums. One of them has many pages of photos of his shipmates; Dad was quite the documenter of human events in which he was involved. Most of the photos are labeled with first names or nicknames; there is no real possibility of my identifying them, and probably very few are still alive today. But I offer them my thanks nonetheless for their service. In troubled times, they stood on that deck and did what had to be done. Dad, with his philosophical bent, understood that that war was not “for the last time” as so many hoped… but he never gave up that hope himself. And neither must we.

7 Bryan { 05.28.07 at 8:02 pm }

Steve, it’s a tradition, which I believe will die out because of what these people have done. When you can’t be sure you will be risking your life for your country, you want to be paid a hell of lot better to risk your life for oil companies.

In hindsight, Alfred Mullen fought in a colonial war, both in the Philippines and China, but people knew it, the government wasn’t lying about it and the privileged, like Teddy Roosevelt, fought right alone with working people like my great grandfather.