"Once we knew who and what to honor on Memorial Day: Those who had given all
their tomorrows.... But in a world saturated with selfhood, where every death is by definition a death in vain, the notion of sacrifice today provokes puzzlement more often than admiration.... Tillman has become a metaphor for the current conflict -- a victim of fratricide, disillusionment, coverup and possibly conspiracy. By comparison, Dunham, who saved several of his comrades in Iraq by falling on an insurgent's grenade, is the unknown soldier. The New York Times, which featured Abu Ghraib on its front page for 32 consecutive days, put the story of Dunham's Medal of Honor on the third page of section B....
The Mainstream Media]
"Several Medal of Honor recipients told me that the first thing they did after the battle was to find a church or some other secluded spot where they could pray, not only for those comrades they'd lost but also the enemy they'd killed.
"Desmond Doss, for instance, was a conscientious objector who entered the army in 1942 and became a medic. Because of his religious convictions and refusal to carry a weapon, the men in his unit intimidated and threatened him, trying to get him to transfer out. He refused and they grudgingly accepted him. Late in 1945 he was with them in Okinawa when they got cut to pieces assaulting a Japanese stronghold.
Everyone but Mr. Doss retreated from the rocky plateau where dozens of wounded remained.
Under fire, he treated them and then began moving them one by one to a steep escarpment where he roped them down to safety.
Each time he succeeded, he prayed, 'Dear God, please let me get just one more man.' By the end of the day, he had single-handedly
saved 75 GIs....
"Big for his age at 14, Jack Lucas begged his mother to help him enlist after Pearl Harbor. She collaborated in lying about his age in return for his promise to someday finish school. After training at Parris Island, he was sent to Honolulu. When his unit boarded a troop ship for Iwo Jima, Mr. Lucas was ordered to remain behind for guard duty. He stowed away to be with his friends and, discovered two days out at sea, convinced his commanding officer to put him in a combat unit rather than the brig. He had just turned 17 when he hit the beach and a day later he was fighting in a Japanese trench when he saw two
grenades land near his comrades.
He threw himself onto the grenades and absorbed the explosion. Later a medic, assuming he was dead, was about to take his dog tag when he saw Mr. Lucas's finger twitch. After months of treatment and recovery, he returned to school as he'd promised his mother, a
ninth grader wearing a Medal of Honor around his neck....
"The POWs of Vietnam configured a mini-America in prison that upheld the values beginning to wilt at home as a result of protest and dissension.... Mike Christian, who one day found a grimy piece of cloth, perhaps a former handkerchief, during a visit to the nasty concrete tank where the POWs were occasionally allowed a quick sponge bath.... Back in his cell he convinced prisoners to give him precious crumbs of soap so he could clean the cloth. He stole a small piece of roof tile which he laboriously ground into a powder, mixed with a bit of water and used to make horizontal stripes. He used one of the blue pills of unknown provenance the prisoners were given for all ailments to color a square in the upper left of the cloth. With a needle made from bamboo wood and thread unraveled from the cell's one blanket, Christian stitched little stars on the blue field.
'It took Mike a couple weeks to finish, working at night under his mosquito net so the guards couldn't see him,' Mr. Thorsness told me.
'Early one morning, he got up before the guards were active and held up the little flag, waving it as if in a breeze. We turned to him and saw it coming to attention and automatically saluted, some of us with tears running down our cheeks. Of course, the Vietnamese found it during a strip search, took Mike to the torture cell and beat him unmercifully..... But when he recovered in a couple weeks he immediately started looking for another piece of cloth.'
"We impoverish ourselves by shunting these heroes and their experiences to the
back pages of our national consciousness. Their stories are not just boys' adventure tales writ large. They are a kind of moral instruction. They remind of something we've heard many times before but is worth repeating on a wartime Memorial Day when we're uncertain about what we celebrate..."
By Peter Collier, Wall Street Journal, 5-26-07
Bataan 60 years later - Remembering those who served:
"John M. Wright... remembered the Army and Navy women nurses, the 'angels' of Bataan and Corregidor
[Philippines, World War II], who refused to leave the wounded when ordered out. He also remembered a truckload of 20 badly wounded men who were to be taken to a 'hospital' but instead were driven away and then beheaded....
"Dick Francies of Cleveland repaired Japanese army radios in prison and subtly sabotaged each one.
Malcolm Amos of Afton, Iowa, a medic who nursed the sick and injured at the prison at Cabanatuan, was a large man who returned home weighing 90 pounds....
"Everett Reamer of Lake Havasu, Ariz., was tortured for 28 straight days after being taken as a slave to Japan; he
kept sane by repeating the 23rd Psalm each day. He is still a tough guy.
In fact, they are all pretty tough guys.
"Yet, these men have a collective feeling of being
abandoned by their country during the battle in the
They have not forgotten that President Franklin Roosevelt, in a radio speech, promised them that help was on the way when it had already been decided that Europe would take first call on men and supplies.
They were never told the truth of their situation and they
kept fighting until there was nothing left to fight with. As one veteran told me:
'We never surrendered! We were surrendered.'
....There is still such sadness in the voices of these men when they speak of how they were treated as prisoners and slaves."
(Eric Sinkkonen, SFC 5/27/02)
"At 6:00 A.M. on the 4th of July in 1863, it rained in
Gettysburg -- it rained on many of the 27,000 wounded and dying Confederate and Union
soldiers. It rained on the thousands of dead yet to be buried. As the day wore on, Lee's
shattered army left Gettysburg and Maj. George Rogers Clark Todd, 10th GA Infantry
(surgeon in Semmes' Brigade) headed south, leaving behind the battlefield his
brother-in-law, Abraham Lincoln, would come to consecrate just 4-1/2 months later."
(See picture of soldiers like Sullivan Baloo)
The wise and loyal soldier, Sullivan Baloo,
was killed at the first battle of Bull Run. Read his
last letter home.
More War Letters
Persecution: Berit's father, a courageous young member of the Norwegian
underground during the Nazi occupation, suffered in three different concentration camps
but was miraculously protected against execution.
Let us cross the river:
"The mix of joy and sorrow, the quick and the dead, the grief and pride, then and now -- it is all as it should be in a free country aware for a moment of the price of freedom.
"Twenty years after D-Day, sitting on the wall of another military cemetery, the one on the bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, the general who led that invasion thought back to that day
['The men called him Ike']:
'These men came here to storm these beaches for one purpose only, not to gain anything for ourselves, not to fulfill any ambitions that America had for conquest, but just to preserve freedom. Many thousands of men have died for such ideals as these, but these young boys
were cut off in their prime.'...
"The faces in the photographs have an innocence and dignity forever preserved, and something else: a loneness. Each stands out. Yet today each is not alone in our memory; they form the real grand army of the republic, rank upon rank, a long gray line stretching back to Gettysburg and Antietam, to Yorktown and Saratoga, as far back as memory....
a good holiday, Gentle Reader, a restful holiday, and return from the land of memory
strengthened and renewed. Nations need rest and remembrance, too, because the battles are
far from over."
2 Cor 4:7