Memorial Day

 Posted by at 4:03 am  Nick's Blog
May 252009

I hope you take a moment today to remember what this holiday is for. To me, it is one of the most sacred days of the year, because I have seen what it is about first hand.

Memorial Day is not about automobile races, or cooking hotdogs on the grill, or getting a three day weekend, or the inconvenience of the post office being closed when you want to mail a letter.

It is a day to remember the men and women who have given us the most precious gift of all, our very freedom, and who paid for it with their lives. We forget that too easily in this country. And we need to remember.

We need to remember that all of those headstones decorated with little American flags in all of those cemeteries across this great land of ours represent somebody’s son, somebody’s brother, somebody’s father. Somebody who put on a uniform for you and for me, and never came home.

Men like my uncle Charles Saxton, my mother’s younger brother. I never knew him, because he was killed in action on August 7, 1943 while serving with the 9th Infantry Division in North Africa. My uncle was just 25 years old when he died.

Men like my high school friend Larry Greene. Larry was an absolute goofball who I could always depend on to get me into trouble with some nonsense or other. He died in 1972 when his helicopter was shot out of the sky over Vietnam.

Men like my buddy Brad Pettit, who slogged through miles of rice paddies and jungle trails with me until we got in a firefight one day and a bullet hit him as he was laying beside me returning fire.

Men like a new kid who stepped on a mine on his very first day in the field with us. I held his hand and looked in his eyes and tried to tell him it was going to be okay, because I couldn’t look at what was left of his body below the waist. I hope I gave him some comfort in his last minutes, but I can still see his eyes as they went blank, and I am haunted to this day because I never knew his name. That is what this day is about.

Please remember that right now, as you are reading this with your morning coffee, or during a commercial break in your favorite television show, somebody’s son or daughter, somebody’s brother or sister, somebody’s husband or wife, is in the enemy’s gunsights. Somewhere today or tomorrow or next week, some mother or father or wife will answer a knock on their door and find solemn men in uniform there to deliver the very worst news of all. That is what this day is about.

Thought For The Day – “A veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve – is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to the ‘United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.'” (Author unknown)

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Nick Russell

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  18 Responses to “Memorial Day”

  1. Damn Nick, every American should be required to read this blog not just today but everyday of the year. I’m sorry for the loss of your friends but thankful you came home to us.

  2. amen ,well said, may we all remember .

  3. Nice job Nick!! I’ve never read such a meaningfull discription.

    I’m speachless!

  4. Hard to post a comment thru tear filled eyes

  5. Very well said Nick. We all need to pause to remember our American heroes. It is much too easy to forget all that they gave.

  6. Nick,

    Thank you to you and all the men and women in uniform. It is such a small word that can never really say enough for all that these brave people have given up so we can be free. I remember the black car pulling up to my mother-in-laws house and the ring of the door bell. Whenever I see a person in uniform or a veteran I always thank them for their service.


  7. Nick,
    You missed “somebody’s Mother.” I’m sure it was not intentional.
    Many women have given their lives in service to our wonderful country.
    I am proud my mother is buried in Arlington along with some of them.

  8. Great post Nick. My parents were both Navy vets and we have always been proud of their service. A couple of years ago, I participated in a project to record and publish the stories of ALL the vets ever serving from our county. It was heart wrenching to hear some of their stories, but most sad was the lack of appreciation and respect many of them received when they returned home. I have always been appreciative, but these stories brought even greater meaning to their service. We can never thank these people enough.

  9. The lump in my throat right now reminds me of just how much we all owe to so many.

  10. Men like my Dad, Ralph Page, who was in Patton’s 3rd Army (Battle of the Bulge). I have his 2 Purple Hearts and his Stalag VII POW tags. He died in 1974 in a Veteran’s Hospital. He only talked to me about his experiences one time.

  11. “Welcome Home, Brother”. I can never say those words enough times. Thanks for your service. Later today I will visit a replica of “The Wall” in Penscola, Fl.

    I will be honoring 26 names of those whose lives were taken from them in 1969 at Dak to. My visit to “The Wall”, June 22, 1989 changed my life and began a healing process that continues today.

  12. Nick…. few people could have written something so powerful as you just did. It really irks me when people run around saying “happy memorial day!”…. I don’t see it as a happy day,.. i see it as a day to reflect, with sadness — that it had to happen at all. A tip of the coffee mug to you for your service, and all servicemen and women,… with sincere thanks.

  13. Great BLOG about Memorial Day. It came from your heart and I appreciate it. Too many people don’t want to think about the sacrifices others make for their well-being and it’s nice to have someone out there to remind them.

    Dave would always thank someone for their service, so, today, I thank you, on behalf of Dave and myself, for your service to your country.

    I wish you peace as you confront the difficult memories you carry.

  14. Nick,

    I will never forget the day the Western Union came to our door and my mom opening that telegram, which I still have. I lost mt father when I was 5yrs. old as he was killed in a fierce wind storm at Camp Fanin in his last week of boot camp on May 2, 1944. Thank you for honoring his memory.

  15. AMEN Nick…… as a fellow veteran Thanks for your Service ……then in uniform and
    now for what you bring to the RV community.

    Say hello to Terry/Connie S.for me… wife worked with Connie for years at the hospital in Bloomington.

    GOD Bless and safe travels

  16. I recently attended the full-honor military funeral for the son of a former co-worker. I had known about it but had decided I couldn’t deal with it. Then, as I was driving down the road, I noticed motorcycle police at various intersections preparing to stop traffic. I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw that I was right in front of the funeral procession. I pulled to the side of this country road, got out, stood with my hand on my heart as Sgt. Bryan Hall’s casket passed by atop a local fire engine (that also carried four American flags for his comrades that died with him). The motorcade was well over a mile long and included fire, police, Rolling Thunder Vets on motorcycles, family, friends, and strangers. I soon found myself back in my car bringing up the rear of the procession. It was amazing to see citizens standing in front of their homes, a vet playing a bagpipe on a corner, a vintage car club with their flashing lights on and the members holding American flags and aging members of the VFW standing at attention in their old uniforms. The military service (with a 21-gun salute, pipers, Taps, and the honor guard) was my first and I’ll never forget it. I hope, for our men and women serving, they never have to be there.

    Thanks Nick and all the other Veterans and their families for all your sacrifices.


  17. Great post; really, really great. I served too but my service did not include dying comrades. You who were there are the men (and the women) who carry the burden of the past. The dead are only to be honored, they have done all they could for us.

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