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My heroes wear combat bootsPosted Monday, August 16, 2010, at 3:20 PM
It's a familiar phrase to many of the families associated with the Indiana Army National Guard Alpha Company 1-151 unit based in Linton.
As we approach Memorial Day on Monday its significance is worth pondering.
Too often, many in this community and other places forget the significance of this cherished holiday.
It seems, the value and contribution of our military heroes past and present is being forgotten or celebrated with less zeal these days.
I guess to many being patriotic isn't the 'political correct' or cool thing to do, but I beg to differ.
Memorial Day is not about picnics, backyard barbeques, camping trips and the start of the summer season.
Memorial Day is a day to honor and remember all of those who have served and are serving in military service.
We need to remember these military heroes -- many from our own families -- for what they have done to protect and preserve our individual and our nation's freedoms.
It's always a moving moment when they read the names of the veterans who have passed away in the past year and play "Taps" at the community veteran's service conducted every Memorial Day on the courthouse lawn in Bloomfield.
That service will again unfold at 3 p.m. Monday.
If any of you have taken the time to attend any of the local Memorial Day services or cemetery services that last couple of years, the few number of people who turn out is rather embarrassing at most locations.
That's sad and disturbing.
How much effort does it take to attend one of those nearby services, which generally last less than 30 minutes?
Our local veterans' groups and the Greene County Veterans Council should be saluted for doing their parts to continue this honored and respectful tradition in our area.
But you know, the significance of this holiday has also dwindled on the national level.
Even our nation's Commander and Chief, U.S. President Brack Obama, this year has opted not to attend the traditional Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery and visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for the laying of a wreath.
Instead, he's going to be on a family vacation back home to Chicago. The White House has announced he will visit the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery for veterans an hour from Chicago.
Other presidents have missed the Arlington Cemetery service in the recent past -- George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
They were also wrong.
George W. Bush, however, was attending a Memorial Day Service in Normandy, France that was honoring that great World War II battle.
The custom of honoring the graves of the war dead began prior to the end of the Civil War, but the national Memorial Day holiday (or "Decoration Day," as it was originally named) was first observed on May 30, 1868, on the order of General John Alexander Logan for the purpose of decorating the graves of the American Civil War dead. With the passage of time, Memorial Day was extended to honor all those who died in service to the nation, from the Revolutionary War to the present. It continued to be observed on May 30 until 1971, when most states changed to a newly established federal schedule of holiday observance.
I'm sure many people are busy with plans on Memorial Day, but really how much time and effort would it take to honor 'our heroes' and attend a service somewhere?
Once again, Lamar Advertising Company is donating billboard space and a general family is donating money to buy the billboard to honor Indiana Army National Guard A1-151 Unit based in Linton.
The new billboard, located on State Road 54 entering Linton from the east -- near Bakersfield Raceway, is slated to be up by July 4.
The billboard will read: "Thank you for your contimued support. Family and Friends of A Company 1-151 ."
The Gary Green family from rural Worthington and Cicero has graciously donated money to pay for the billboard space for six months.
You will recall that the Greens stepped up during the most recent deployment of the local National Guard unit and sponsored a similar billboard that used a large photo that was taken by myself for the Greene County Daily World.
The National Guard unit has graciously allowed the Greene County Daily World logo to be included on the upcoming billboard because of this newspaper's continued strong support for the unit and its members, according to Margaret Amos, who serves as the local Family Assistance Coordinator.
The billboard will feature a message of thank you for the continuing service of the Guardsmen to the community and the nation. It will also have a new photo that was taken during a recent weekend drill.
Boston Scientific is also sponsoring a billboard that will be soon up in Greencastle area donated space by Lamar as well, but that is only sponsored for July at this point.
Lamar has offered to donate space where available for the units in Bloomington, Lebanon, and Columbus as well if sponsors in those areas for those units are located.
Vicki Aydt, local Family and Friends of A Company 1-151 (formerly the Family Readiness Group) chapter president, says she's excited that a new billboard will soon be up for everyone to see as a reminder about the valued military service the Guard members contribute to the community and the nation.
She said the work of the FRG is significant for the Guardsmen and the group appreciates any type of donations -- monetary, gift cards or other items from the community.
They are also looking for someone to put on a picnic or event for the group and she said, "We appreciate anything."
Again, the billboard project is just another way to honor our military veterans and say thank you to them for lacing up those combat boots and being our heroes.
A Memorial Day tribute: A Veteran Died Today
This poem was written and published in 1987 by syndicated columnist A. Lawrence Vaincourt.
He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast;
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies, they were heroes everyone.
And tho' sometimes to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer, for old John has passed away;
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.
He'll not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.
When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
And thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Newspapers tell their life stories, from the time that they were young.
But, the passing of a simple Soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land,
A person who breaks promises and cons his fellow man,
Or the ordinary fellow, who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers his life?
It"s so easy to forget them, for it was so long ago,
That the "old Johns" of our country went to battle, but we know,
It was not the politicians, with their promises and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.
He was just a "common soldier" and his ranks are growing thin.
But, his presence should remind us, we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the Soldier's part,
Is to clean up the troubles, that others often start.
If we cannot give him honor, while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least, let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps a simple notice, in the paper that would say,
"Our country is in mourning, cause a Soldier passed away today."
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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