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Indelible montage for Memorial Day

by Frank Strong

We cherish too, the Poppy redThat grows on fields where valor led,It seems to signal to the skiesThat blood of heroes never dies. – Moina Michael, as cited by USMemorialDay.org.

I don’t have words for the holiday, but here’s how to observe Memorial Day and the History Channel has some interesting facts. If you work in marketing or PR, here’s what not to do.  I find it distasteful.  Good initiative; poor judgement.   Instead, I’m offering a few things that have moved me this weekend, a montage of sorts. Many of these photos and graphics are items my own friends have shared on social media. 

  1.  “If not me, then who…” writes Tom Manion quoting his son Travis who was killed on his second deployment in the Wall Street Journal. The quote is a reference to Travis thoughts about returning for #2:  if he went again, his service might keep safe a junior Marine.  Manion Senior, it’s worth noting, served for 30 years.  His article details dozens of sacrifices, including Devin Snyder, 20-year old NCO her mother describes as a “girly-girl.”  She was killed by a road side bomb in Afghanistan.  Sen. John McCain, a veteran himself tweeted a link.
  2. “The more I thought about myself, the weaker I became. The more I recognized that I was serving a purpose larger than myself, the stronger I became,” said Eric Greitens in a commencement speech to Tufts University. The author of this CNN post goes on to quote Longfellow, “The life of man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams but in active charity and in willing service.”  The reference to “man” should be considered gender neutral, as my first post point notes, the veteran sacrifice is without regard to sex.

  3. Interested in the new movie “Battleship?”  COL Greg Gadson, a double amputee has a role in the film.  He appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno recently.  The interview is worth watching, but the trailer later in the interview is inspirational for so many reasons.  If you want to know more about COL Gadson, read this.
  4. “Everybody had a part, not just those who fought,” writes the New Jersey Star Ledger’s John Farmer.  I couldn’t agree more. We’re a long way from the sacrifice our Nation as a whole gave during both World Wars, or even the Civil War, but still it’s people like Rebecca Ayer,Maureen Alley  and Tom Pick, who reach out on their own, with a kind word of support, a thought, or simply to say hello, with no expectation of anything in return.  It’s pretty magical, so take a play from their playbook and reach out to someone — or better yet — that elderly veteran who fought so many years ago?  Listen to his or her story.   That’s all they need.
  5. The CIA takes a lot of flack for pushing the envelop.  But I believe it’s made up of professionals who quietly do their work and for all the mishaps, rarely get the public recognition their actions merit.  They’ve lost people too.  Hollywood’s cast a perception of an all-knowing, secretive agency trading in secrets, but the reality is, the agency is made up of Americans just like me and you.  Except, when someone mouth’s off about them, they take it on the chin, quietly, and go back to work the next day.  The organization is currently led by retired four star general, David Petraeus, and though I’ve never met him in person, I’d follow him anywhere.  He’s a Soldier’s Soldier, but he also has that uncanny ability to make anyone feel like they are the most important person in the world.   He’s a warrior, an academic (Ph.D. from Princeton) and he’s great with media.
  6. “Thank you to those of you who have served our country. Maryam and I were just thinking about our friends in the military and what this Memorial Day weekend means and stopped by the Golden Gate National Cemetery to pay our respects,” wrote Robert Scoble on his Google+ account.  Amen, brother.  It’s his photo that appears to the left.
  7. “I was just telling myself, You have to be strong when you’re doing this,” says BG Belinda Pinckney in this Esquire post on delivering a neatly folded flag at a funeral.  The article notes, “The Army’s Chief of Staff has directed that a general officer, randomly assigned, will attend every funeral of every soldier killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.”
  8. Melinda Cox Hall, writes on Twitter, “In Loving Memory of my ggg grandfather, Thomas Lafayette Morris 1805-1880.”



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