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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.

Edward Emhof, my maternal grandfather, went to France as a rifleman in the 87th Infantry Division, but spent most of his time building the all-purpose wooden ladders-litters that were used in the trenches.

George T. Dumka, my paternal grandfather, was looking for a little adventure when he joined the 11th Infantry Regiment, but a year of occupation duty in Cuba, in an olive drab wool uniform wasn’t much of an adventure.

Alfred Mullen went a long way from driving teams pulling barges on the Erie Canal to being a soldier in the 9th Infantry Regiment in the Philippines and China. He is buried in the Chalmette National Cemetery on the site of the Battle of New Orleans. He and his wife both died of the tuberculosis he acquired in Asia.

The country continues to ask for service and people still respond to that call. As you think about the sacrifices represented by Arlington and other cemeteries, ask yourself if you have done what you could to prevent misuse of the willingness of some to serve.

It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

5 comments

1 Steve Bates { 05.30.11 at 8:37 am }

Thank you, Bryan, for your service to America, and for the service of your forebears. And thank you for your common sense about the whole tragic business of war.

2 Mustang Bobby { 05.30.11 at 10:43 am }

I am remembering my great-uncle who came ashore at Omaha Beach, won a Bronze Star, and served until he died from cancer six months before I was born. I wish I had known him.

Thank you, Bryan, for remembering and reminding us, and for serving.

3 ellroon { 05.30.11 at 11:42 am }

What Steve and Mustang Bobby said, Bryan. Thank you for your post, your blog, and your service.

4 cookiejill { 05.30.11 at 11:57 am }

Thank you for your and your families service to our country, Bryan.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us via your blog.
Thank you for keep pointing out that certain emperors don’t have clothes.

5 Bryan { 05.30.11 at 3:12 pm }

Before I forget Bobby, your great-uncle and my Dad were at Kadena at the same time. Unless your great-uncle was part of the 19th Medium Bomb Group or Wing they wouldn’t have met, because my Dad was part of the guided weapons program, and everything was restricted. However, since he was an engineer and was involved in anti-aircraft defense, it is very possible he was part of that effort to blow up the bridges over the Yalu River between Korea and China. The bridges were down in valleys and they only wanted the Korean sides damaged while both sides were fighting at the bombers, so it involved some serious problems.

The concept is called public service, which is what you do if you really believe in the concept of society, and it doesn’t have to involve the military. My older brother was in the Peace Corp. A great-uncle built schools working for the WPA.

It doesn’t even have to include government service. My great grandmother was Pearl Chapman before she married Alfred Mullen, and she was a great grandniece of John Chapman, who wandered into Ohio from New York, planting apple seeds as he saw the new country. He didn’t see much of a future working on the canal boats like the rest of the Chapmans, and wanted to see what things looked like beyond Buffalo. They grow good apples in New York, so he thought he would share [or he got lost again, which is the official version among some Chapmans]. “Johnny Appleseed” is the best known of the New York Chapmans, which many of the hard-working Chapmans don’t appreciate much.

Memorial Day should be about all of those who went before us and made our lives better, no matter how they did it.