To put things correctly into perspective: Memorial Day, Armed Forces and Veterans Day, etc. are inter-twined but those who made the ultimate sacrifice, are MIA or have been wounded—physically and/or mentally—come first.

Recent attendance at the burial ceremony of the DNA identified remains of a Sailor killed in the attack on the USS Oklahoma on 7 December 1941 in Pearl Harbor adds to the focus. The attendance was Family, a Navy Burial Contingent, Veterans including a motorcycle group, a few Boy Scouts, and a modest assortment of Others. The Sailor, who made the ultimate sacrifice, represents all who made the Country’s foundation and lightening rod strong for those that survived. The Military comes from all walks of life, they understand one another, and they are Family.

Was fortunate to have been born here, and a few years of Service was a small price to pay. Was fortunate to mentally and physically qualify for the Military. Some of what the Military provided:

  • First train ride which included a sleeper
  • First air flight from one major city to another while looking down on others.
  • First time to another state (eventually amounted to seven states via travel and training)
  • First formal training after high school, never did push-ups in high school for a mistake
  • First fulltime pay and with a free bed, clothes, meals and some needed dental care
  • First boat ride across an ocean which included an ocean sickness bout
  • First time to live in a foreign country where sibling was also stationed and met
  • First completed year of college (in formal classes while in the Military)
  • First promotions in any formal setting—think Beetle Bailey, Sgt. Snorkel, Lt. Jackson Flap…?
  • First real exposure to people from all over the country and world—there is a bell-shaped curve!
  • First vacation which covered three foreign countries, one where some distant relatives were met
  • First foreign language learned which eventually led to my future wife, who did not speak that language
  • A few months early release from active duty to attend college
  • –e GI Bill which helped lead to 2 degrees plus with no debt upon completion

It should be noted that my DD Form 214 discharge from the Reserves is dated 11 November 19XX.  About 50 years after that day, the first time it ever happened, while on travel, a Military Career Officer thanked me for my Service.  She did not have to, but it was okay coming from a someone who understood where we have been.