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Many of us think of Memorial Day as a federal holiday where most people have a day off to barbeque, go to the beach or travel, but in fact there’s a great deal of historical significance attached to the day.

Celebrated annually in May, Memorial Day is an occasion for remembering those who died while serving their country in the United States armed forces. It’s not to be confused with Veteran’s Day, an annual holiday in November that honors everyone who served in the U.S. military.

Memorial Day was first observed in 1868, when it was called Decoration Day, a day set aside to honor the 600,000 U.S. men and women who died in the Civil War. Millions more have served since, and many have made the ultimate sacrifice.

To commemorate the holiday, here are 14 Memorial Day quotes said by influential people.

“The average American is nothing if not patriotic.” -Herbert Croly

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” -Mark Twain

“Better to die fighting for freedom than be a prisoner all the days of your life.” -Bob Marley

“Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic.” -Dan Rather

“The brave die never, though they sleep in dust: Their courage nerves a thousand living men.” -Minot J. Savage

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” -Joseph Campbell

“I am proud to be an American. Because an American can eat anything on the face of this earth as long as he has two pieces of bread.” -Bill Cosby

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” -John F. Kennedy

“What’s right about America is that although we have a mess of problems, we have great capacity – intellect and resources – to do something about them.” -Henry Ford

“There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence, and energy of her citizens can not cure.” -Dwight David Eisenhower

“I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism.” –Bob Riley

“Who kept the faith and fought the fight; The glory theirs, the duty ours.” –Wallace Bruce

“The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree.” –Thomas Campbell

“The dead soldier’s silence sings our national anthem.” –Aaron Kilbourn

From the commercials I see on television, to various blogs speaking of how once you have worn camo it is in your blood and it defines who you are. I get that. I respect that. This is not Veterans day and not about what color of uniform covers a man or woman. But this day is about those that bled red until they had no more to give for my freedom.

Hats off, flags lowered, prayers given for those that have given without question, doubt, or care for themselves, but for us……monos en theos…..jim

Photos on the journey #465


I started Memorial day by watching the movie “Honor Flight”.  You can rent it via I tunes, grab a couple of hankies and watch it. A touching  documentary about a bunch of WWII vets being taken to Washington DC to visit the memorial made in their honor. My sinuses and throat are still tender from both the tears I shed and the ones I held back.  It was such a tribute to what is appropriately called the “worlds greatest generation.” Of boys that traded Keds for combat boots. They collectively left for far away unknown places  to face untold atrocities and to come back men that just as quickly traded the boots for wingtips and went to work. Memories were put in a box along with medals and a lot of stories.

My dad was part of that war. It is not that I don’t have lots of physical and mental memories of my dad, but I miss his smell. I so vividly remember the Valentines morning that cancer took him from me. When the funeral guys came to pick up his body, they could not fit the gurney through the narrow hall way. While they were busy pondering how to get the contraption to him, I picked him up and carried him to the gurney. It was probably the first time that I followed his generation tradition of just simply getting things done. I went back to his bed and burrowed my face in his pillow and savored the smell of him.

Dad told me stores of the war, but they were always of fun and manly camaraderie, little of true blood and guts war stories. He was a Navy combat photographer and had lots memories recorded on film and etched in his brain. He shared only the good stuff and carried the rest of the burden as they all did. Dad told me of surviving three PBY airplane crashes in the Pacific. How he once floated with other crew members in the open sea for two and a half days. Never once suffering as much as a scratch until he cut his arm climbing into the rescue craft. He laughed that he “didn’t even get a purple heart for that one”.  Other memories carried him to some dark places and he collected more wounds later in life from an unbroken brown bottle trying to forget the war.

As a child, the neighbor hood boys all played “war”. We talked about how many “Japs” (sic & apologies) our fathers had killed. Unlike our father’s generation, us “baby boomers” talked and we all knew each others stories. So all my friends knew my dad was a photographer and that he probably didn’t kill anyone. That really never made him any smaller to me. One day rousting through one of his boxes of memorabilia, I found a photo of him posed without a shirt. He had a mustache over his lips and a Lucky Strike between them. More importantly to me, he was wearing a 45 automatic pistol holstered under his arm. I felt much like Jem must have felt when Atticus shot the rabid dog in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. There was a big part of my dad that I never knew.

I have the razor with which I gave my dad his last shave, I have photos, knifes, tools, cameras, and lots of stuff, but I sure miss his smell. I also miss that ironically, with two photographers in the house  I have not one photo of us together. Here’s to ya Dad, happy Memorial Day.  Thanks for both the freedom and the silence.

PEZFULEZFEELIN’@U ††† en theos ††† jlawrence