Memorial Day Reminder

A forum dedicated to the creative expressions, inspirations, hopes and dreams of fellow Karateka.

Memorial Day Reminder

Postby david » Sat May 29, 1999 8:28 pm

have a safe memorial day everyone, enjoy the time with family. But don't forget the reason for this holiday...

> > > What I'll Be Doing For Memorial Day
> > > By James E. Leiker
> > >
Memorial Day is a rough day for me. It's a day of remembering. Remembering
can be a curse when you've spent years trying to forget. It's even worse
when you get mad at yourself for not being able to remember. It's strange
that you forget so many things you want to remember and remember so much
that you really want to forget.

I spent 11 months, 28 days in sunny Southeast Asia. I came back physically
whole. "No members missing" tag on this Marine. By the Grace of God, good
training, and just plain pure dumb luck, I suffered no more than a slight
hearing loss, a concussion or two, and 25 years of mixed-blessing memories.

I've been a good husband to my wife, a lousy father to my two daughters, a
mediocre son to my mother, and a reasonably successful employee to five
employers over the years. With these results, I consider myself as doing
better than the average bear when compared to many of my fellow veterans.
The Grace of God and luck still abound. Memorial Day is not a day for
self-evaluation or selfish thoughts. So I turn my remembrances to other
people, places, and things.

I remember heat. Heat that kept you from getting a full breath for weeks.
Heat that sapped your strength so that you were beyond exhaustion after a
minor exertion. Heat that made you tired and kept you from sleeping. Heat
that made you sweat buckets. Heat that made you freezing cold at 70 degrees.
I remember lush green mountains that always seemed to go up not down. I
remember red earth that was sticky enough to glue a deuce and a half in
place, slippery enough to make it impossible to stand on, and dusty enough
to choke you into a coughing fit like a bad cigar. I remember rice paddies.
They could get you killed or save your life. Dikes stop bullets but can
leave you exposed if you're dumb enough to walk on them. The water smelled
of feces but was better than not drinking at all. I remember rain. Rain
that broke the intolerable heat then never stopped. Rain that was as gentle
as silk or as stinging as a nest of bees. Rain that let you get a good
clean shower and rotted your feet 'til they bled. I remember the sun. The
sun that created the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I've ever seen in
my life. The sun that you couldn't look at...if you ever wanted to see
again. The sun that you could feel without touching it. I remember a moon
that shone so bright you could read a map by it. I remember moonlight
dancing on foliage that made you see nothing one minute and imagine a host
of slinking VC the next. I'll never forget the colors of an explosion close
at hand. The white center bleeding out to a yellow ring surrounded by black
rolling smoke was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. I remember the
orange and green tracers dancing lazily through the night, while I prayed
that none came to roost on me.

But above all this, I remember people. Faces, personalities, and human
events still crowd my days and nights with pleasure and pain. I can remember
entire conversations and events in explicit detail. I cannot remember the
names of more than a few, and I don't know why. Shouldn't this be the other
way around?

I remember the parting face of the Huey jock, who took an RPG in the nose
100 yards after he lifted off from leaving me in a clearing. I remember
every detail of the guy who hung himself 2 weeks before he was going back to
the world. I remember the guitar songs taught to me by the kid from Boston,
who drove a jeep over a 105 shell buried on a dirt road and tripped the
trap. I remember the quiet calm of the guy who told me he was sorry and
assured me that I would be O.K. after he stepped on a mortar-round booby
trap. All this while I held what was left of him in my arms, and we filled
him with enough morphine to kill a horse because he was cut in half below
the waist; and we knew he wouldn't survive the slick ride back to DaNang.

Of the hundreds I knew, I kick myself for remembering so few. Especially on
this Memorial Day when I should be able to remember each and every one.
They are the ones who paid for this Memorial Day. This is their day. I will
not spoil it by forgetting even one of their number. God help me, I will
remember. From this day forth I will carry their memory and spirit with me
as a living memorial to their sacrifice and dedication to God, country,
duty, and honor. They shall not pass gently into the night as long as I have
breath in my body to shout to the world...

REMEMBER, REMEMBER...For God's sake Remember.<<
Posts: 2077
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
Location: Boston, MA

Memorial Day Reminder

Postby Scott Danziger » Sat May 29, 1999 9:54 pm

Thanks for that post! It was intesnse. And a good reminder.
User avatar
Scott Danziger
Posts: 929
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
Location: Long Island

Memorial Day Reminder

Postby Lori » Sat May 29, 1999 10:03 pm

Exellent post.

We would all do well to look beyond our own noses - and acknowledge the comfortable luxurious life we are free to enjoy - thanks to those who believed enough in the cause to die for it.

Posts: 865
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am

Memorial Day Reminder

Postby Knight » Sun May 30, 1999 4:59 am

Okay David, I'll tell you something, (now that Van-san has blown my cover)...
Why I became a shrink:
I drew the short straw one day in medical school. Which meant that instead of hanging around the brilliant academic shrinks in Chapel Hill, I would be flown to Fayette-Nam (Fayetteville, NC, home of Fort Bragg and Pope AF Base) VA hospital for my psych clerkship. I drew a semi-retired doc for my preceptor, who knew beans about the specialty.

But then, night after night, I watched the veterans walk the halls, dripping with sweat, flashing back on all kinds of stuff, desperate for relief. That did it for me. As far as I remember, that's the only clerkship that brought me to tears.

I also married a psych nurse, daughter of a Marine (and a cop), who makes double sure we and our four young kids attend every Memorial Day parade, and that we get close enough to the ceremony to hear every word uttered by the speakers.

I wish my kids were old enough to see your post, David. Not quite yet. But we do have the flag proudly displayed, not to impress anyone or to declare a political party affiliation; rather, to remind ourselves and our kids that the "star spangled banner" signifies more than the opening to a sports event.

Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 1998 6:01 am
Location: Portsmouth,NH,US

Memorial Day Reminder

Postby david » Sun May 30, 1999 3:53 pm


I was in the coming of age stage during the Vietnam War. I remember seeing the nightly news of the body bags, battles won and lost in places I can't even pronounce then or now. I didn't and to a degree do not understand even now what the War was about.

There were repercussions here at Home which I experienced. Yet, I never felt but the utmost respect for those who went and fought, my cousin (as a helicopter gunman), some "big guys" in Chinatown I looked up to, and some martial artists I got to know as teen.

The Vietnam War is a defining moment in our generation. As such, I had to see the memorial in DC. When I laid eyes on that Memorial, on the overwhelming number of names or people who gave their lives at such young ages, on the artifacts -- lovingly and mysteriously left by the memorial sections and individual names speaking of an ongoing connection between the living and the dead, on the veterans themselves who stood vigil to their fallen comarades with a mixture of pride and deep abiding sense of loss...

Yes. They deserve a moment in our collective thoughts.

Posts: 2077
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
Location: Boston, MA

Memorial Day Reminder

Postby Jackie Olsen » Sun May 30, 1999 4:07 pm

David ... thank you ....

As a citizen in a country that has not had a war fought within its borders, sometimes I forget our freedoms had been won and maintained by those veterans. I have never known anyone who talked openly about what it was like to have fought in a foreign war.

My Dad was a WWII veteran, yet never spoke about his experiences. The closest I ever got as a child to knowing his inner turmoil was the look on face as he carried the flag during the Memorial Day Parade in my hometown. I watched him as the Chaplain gave the memorial service ... it was then I realized that sometimes the most sacred of tears never seek our eyes...

May there be peace and beauty in our lifetime,

User avatar
Jackie Olsen
Posts: 619
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 1998 6:01 am

Memorial Day Reminder

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Mon May 31, 1999 5:24 am

David San:

Great post.

I will die before I forget.


Posts: 2448
Joined: Sat Nov 28, 1998 6:01 am

Return to Creative Heart & Soul Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests