Why Memorial Day matters

| May 28, 2007

My father and both of my grandfathers served in World War II. Dad survived Pearl Harbor, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, and the invasion of Guam, as well as two tours of duty in Vietnam some 25 years later. My son Jon, my father’s namesake, now serves our country in the USMC and may deploy to Iraq some time next year. I have one daughter who served in the Army National Guard and another who is contemplating elisting in the Navy, as well as a son-in-law who has served in the Marines and is now in the US Coast Guard. I’ve had three brothers-in-law who served in the US Armed Forces as well.

As a Navy brat, I grew up surrounded by military men and women (and the children thereof). I knew first hand — though not as well as my older siblings — all the disadvantages to a military life. The pay is low, the service is inefficient (the old Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego still remains a dark icon of my childhood), the internal politics and power struggles can be appalling (go back here and read why Dad left the Navy after 29 years instead of 30).

So where do we get such men and women who endure all this in order to keep free and safe — at the risk and cost of their own lives — not just our country, but much of the world as well? As I’ve said before, I read history in general and military history in particular. One searches in vain to find another country, another military, that has spent so much of its blood and resources merely to defend itself and to free others. I have little patience and even less respect for those who speak of “American Imperialism” — we are the least imperialistic, most altruistic superpower that has ever existed.

A flag waves today down by our mailbox. I spoke on the phone a little while ago with our next-door neighbor, who called just to say how much she appreciated that. I look at it, remember my visits to Arlington National Cemetery and the USS Arizona Memorial, and weep in sorrow and thanks at the price so many have paid. The peace, freedom, and prosperity we enjoy cost the best blood of the 20th Century, and we’re making a down-payment on the 21st Century as well.

Which is why we should always remember. ..bruce..

[UPDATED 05/28/07 – 1021 MDT]

For something a bit more lighthearted, here is a video of the Andrews Sisters singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” back in 1941. Hat tip to Say Anything, which has other videos as well. ..bruce..

[UPDATED 05/28/07 – 1127 MDT]

A note from my mother, who is herself one of my heroes:

Good morning, Bruce, My flag is flying, too. I went out to Ft. Rosecrans yesterday to visit the memorials to Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Ralph Gordon, Rory Gordon, Jon L[ewis], and Marguerite Dykeman, and all the other flag-decorated graves along the path. I thought how appropriate it was that Grandpa’s grave overlooks the sub base — because he was on subs in WWI — and Dad’s was on the Pacific side, with a radar tower in sight. You might recall that Ralph was killed on a carrier landing on the Bonny Dick just before Jacque was born. And Jon L was a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. Love, Mom

‘Nuff said. ..bruce..

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Category: Commentary, Geopolitics, Main, Military, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

Comments (2)

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  1. alexandroid says:

    Too bad we have so many people to remember. All wars are lead and initiated not by nations, but their leaders only and too bad the military people are need to follow the orders and die for nothing. Training yourself for protecting the country is the honor, but willing to fight just because someone gives “reasons” is not heroic or Christianic… I guess if all military people just refused to fight on both sides, then we would not have such stupid wars like Vietnam, Iraq and even WW2. The war makes people evil, not vise versa, so people should just refuse to strike first. I can understand when you need to fight just to save your family lives, but “to bring peace” (iraq?) or “conquer new territories” (ww2?)… It’s never worth people lives on any side… Too bad military people are military people.

  2. bfwebster says:

    Alex:

    While you express a few sentiments for which I have some sympathy, I strongly disagree with others. I think that your comments warrant a full-blown posting rather than a short response buried here in the comments section; I’ll see if I can get to that in the next week or two (I have some short-term deadlines for a client right now). But — and I mean this — thanks for posting. ..bruce..