Memorial Day: A Personal Reflection

memorial-day-images-2014-7by Timothy Lane   5/26/14
Sweeden Missionary Baptist Church in Sweeden, Kentucky (that’s not a misspelling; the unincorporated town my family comes from takes its name from Sweden, but for some reason has an extra “e”) has a picnic on the Sunday of the fourth weekend in May, so Elizabeth and I have taken to going there (as a Southern Baptist, she also chose to attend the service while I sat in the car and read for an hour) both for the picnic and to place flowers on a few graves, especially those appropriate to Memorial Day.

This time, we brought 4 sets of flowers, an ordinary bundle for a death from the past year and 3 designed for the holiday. We placed one of those on my father’s grave, which is very appropriate because he was killed in South Vietnam on May 18, 1966 (this is probably American rather than local time) – the second lieutenant colonel to be killed there, or so we were told at the time.

We placed another on the grave of Robert Moses and his first wife, my great-aunt Lucille, because they were both long-term veterans themselves (though neither died in combat). Robert (commonly known as “Pop”; his grave is the only place I ever saw or heard his actual name used) told us once that he had bad nightmares of his service in the Pacific during World War II and thus never watched war movies lest he bring them on again – but that didn’t keep him from rejoining after the war. (His final posting was at Fort Campbell, where his service overlapped with my father’s before the latter was posted overseas.) Until I noticed that her grave identified her as serving during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, I hadn’t realized that Aunt Lucille was herself a veteran, even though I saw her at least occasionally in uniform; I guess when I was young the idea of a female soldier was too strange to consider.

The final patriotic bundle was on the grave of Teresa Ann Lane, my second cousin. She chose a different path, going into the Navy rather than the Army, and serving in the medical corps, eventually reaching the rank of lieutenant commander (which would be equivalent to an Army major). As such, she had to deal with the long-festering problems of medical for the military and veterans, and this no doubt was why she attempted suicide several years ago – which left her comatose until she finally was released from life in 2010. Her death is thus linked to the recent scandal (though note that it’s also a reminder that the problems are long-standing, and the fault of Obama in this is simply the failure to do anything about it, or even seriously try to, despite running on that issue among others).

As for today, well, there are lots of baseball games on, so mostly I’ll be watching those – though I am at this moment playing a CD (or more precisely a computer image of a CD) of patriotic songs (something I often do on such occasions). It ends, appropriately today, with Lee Greenwood’s superb “God Bless the USA”.

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.”
“And I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me.”

Even writing that brings tears to my eyes. But then, for me that second line is very personal (and even more so when one remembers that Abraham Lincoln is my first cousin five times removed). • (940 views)

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3 Responses to Memorial Day: A Personal Reflection

  1. LibertyMark says:

    Very touching, Timothy. Clearly heartfelt. It was almost like a Winston Groom story. You or your family touched on so many historical moments. One of the first to die in Viet Nam? God bless his soul.

    One question, why did you eschew the Southern Baptist service? I have forgotten your position on God and salvation, having not posted here for some time. At least you could have sung some of the good old hymns.

    Remember. Honor.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Not one of the first, one of the first of his rank (lieutenant colonel, commanding the 39th Engineer Battalion of the 101st Airborne). As for the service, I was raised an Episcopalian but am now pretty much a deist. Nor would I be likely to sing the old hymns (though there are many I appreciate) where someone I don’t know would hear me. I love many forms of music, but unfortunately my ability to sing them is another matter.

      • Rosalys says:

        “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord…” Ps 100:1

        The Lord doesn’t care whether Timothy Lane has what is considered a good voice or not. He just wants to hear you sing praise and it will sound beautiful to Him.

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