Memorial Day 5-30-2011: The Right Blogfest: Standing In The Shadows Of Greatness

Welcome to The Right Blogfest. Please read about today, Memorial Day for 2011 here and at these other fine blogs participating in the Right Blogfest today: Raisedonhoecakes, 2sisters from the right, Steve Bussey . Please visit these other sites for a well done variety of Memorial day topics. I am honored to be included in this Blogfest.

We hope and pray that you and your loved are safe and are standing out of harm's way on this day.

May it not be lost on any one of us that we are free today because of those who have laid their lives on that thin red line, with so many of them paying the highest price a man or woman can pay, so we in this country remain free. At what price is freedom no 'longer worth it'? There are too many today that are saying it is time the United States learned it's place in the new world order. It is both infuriating, sad and insulting to so many serving in our military that today we have a commander in chief who seems to think and act along that NWO line of thought. To that and to all the naysayers I say this: freedom does not have a price tag, a price that may be 'too high' to pay. Where would we be or where would the world be today had that line of thought prevailed in 1776, 1812, 1861, 1917, 1941, 1953, 1964, 1991, 2001 and all the conflicts this country has known since then? Not a pleasant thought, is it? Today IS NOT for arguing or discourse. Today is about honor shown, prayers and thankfulness given to those who served in the past, now, and to those who will serve in the future, to those who have fallen and will fall.

John 15:13 –Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Today is Memorial Day, May 30, 2011.  Feel free to share with others if you have found our efforts worthy of mention to others. While that is appreciated, today May 30, 2011, Memorial Day is NOT about us but to do honor to those who have paid in service, honor, duty, to country and freedom, with blood and too many times for this Patriot, with their very lives.

That I could do the same should that day ever come when my country, The United States of America, calls on me to stand up in harms way to confront and defeat, no matter how or in what manner the evil that threatens us. Like my Grandfather, Father and Uncles before me who answered their country's call. I stand in the shadows of greatness cast by those who have served and have fallen before me and us.


I Stand In The Shadows Of Greatness: For the Unknown Soldier on this Memorial Day May 30, 2011

The Sentinel's Creed: A code of Honor, Duty and Country to The Unknown Soldier

Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier

Photo Courtesy of Major General Robert Foley

The Unknown Soldier

More than 1 Million American men and women have given their lives in the defense of freedom. For all those whose names we do not know, the Unknown Soldiers of World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam serve as a somber reminder of the cost of Freedom.

Navy Corpsman William Charette looked out from the deck of the U.S.S. Canberra. The medic had saved many lives during the Korean war and just five years earlier had been awarded the Medal of Honor. Before him on this day in 1958 were three flag-draped caskets, soldiers who hadn't survived their war. What made these three men unique was the fact that no one knew their names, knew from whence they hailed, or even in what branch of service they had served. They were unknowns. Even without knowing the details of their lives, the fact remained that they had answered their country's call, defended the ideals the flag that covered their caskets represented, and sacrificed their lives in the process. Slowly the corpsman bent and placed a wreath beside one of the caskets. In so doing he designated which of the three would be buried as "The Unknown Soldier of World War II".

Since 1776, no generation of Americans has been spared the responsibility of defending freedom by force of arms. Forty million American men and women have answered the call to duty, more than one million sacrificing their lives in the belief that some principles are worth fighting…and even dying…to preserve. Fewer than 3,500 of these brave soldiers have been awarded the Medal of Honor, but each and every man or woman who has ever served with honor and distinction is, in a sense, a hero. Among the legacy left by these millions of unheralded warriors are many unknown acts of courage and sacrifice. Certainly there are many whose actions may have merited such an award but for whatever reason the moment of valor was not recorded for posterity. The unknown soldiers buried in Arlington and elsewhere in the world ARE EACH RECIPIENTS of the Medal of Honor, unknown veterans of combat who in death, remind us of the unknown heroism of so many millions of others.

Veterans Day, the holiday set aside to remember the sacrifice of our Nation's men and women in uniform, took its roots from the signing of the armistice ending World War I in 1919. As such it was appropriate that on that day two years later, the unknown soldier of World War I was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery beneath a crypt bearing the inscription "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God". After a sober procession through the streets of Washington, President Warren G. Harding pinned the Medal of Honor to the flag that covered the casket. (The Unknown Soldier of World War I was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, as well as the highest awards of all allied nations. Congress further authorized awards of the Medal of Honor to the unknown soldiers of World War I who were buried in Belgium, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Rumania.)

The war to end all wars wasn't, and within 25 years 16 million men and women proved their willingness to protect liberty and human dignity at the risk of their own lives. A burial was planned for the unidentified remains of one such World War II casualty when the United States found itself defending freedom yet again, this time in Korea. The interment was delayed until that war had ended. On Memorial Day a month after Corpsman Charette placed that symbolic wreath aboard the U.S.S. Canberra, the unknown soldiers of both World War II and Korea were lowered to rest next to their brother in arms from World War I. President Dwight D. Eisenhower presented the Medal of Honor to each.

Ninee years after the Vietnam War ended President Ronald Reagan stood before yet another flag draped casket at Arlington. "Thank you dear son," he said more for benefit of the solemn gathering than the young man beneath the flag who could no longer hear such words. "May God cradle you in His loving arms." Then, as had two presidents before him, he awarded the Medal of Honor to an unknown American soldier who had made the ultimate sacrifice. (The Vietnam War Unknown Soldier was chosen in a similar wreath laying ceremony, the wreath being placed by Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Allan Kellogg, Jr.)

The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were exhumed May 14, 1998. Based on mitochondrial DNA testing, Department of Defense scientists identified the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972.  Lieutenant Blassie was subsequently reinterred near his family's home in St. Louis, Missouri.  Based upon the advancements in remains identification it seems unlikely that body of a truly unknown soldier from the Vietnam war could ever be found, and it has been determined that the crypt will therefore remain empty.

The resting place of the Unknown Soldier of that war is now empty but the Medal of Honor remains to honor the unknown valor of a still another generation of unknown heroes.

                  Procession to Arlington for the Unknown Soldier of World War I.  Among the pall bearers were WWI Medal of Honor recipients Samuel Woodfill and Ernest Janson.


The Plaque at The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier.

Under authority of Public Resolution 67, of the 66th Congress, approved March 4, 1921, An unknown American Soldier was exhumed from each of the four American cemeteries in France.  They were placed in identical caskets and assembled at Chalons Sur Marne.

The Unknown Soldier was selected on October 24, 1921.  Sergeant Edward F. Younger, US Army, carrying a spray of white roses, entered the room where the four unmarked, flag draped caskets were resting.  He slowly circled, silently placing the roses on one of the caskets.  Thus the unknown soldier was officially designated.  The three remaining unknowns were then returned to the Meuse Argonne Cemetery.

The unknown soldier was placed aboard the US Cruiser Olympia, which arrived at the Nation's Capitol on November 9, 1921.  The honored remains were taken to the Rotunda of the United States Capitol to rest in state until Armistice Day on November 11.  The Unknown Soldier was moved to the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery.  After services in the Amphitheater, the remains were borne to the sarcophagus for brief committal rites.  The impressive ceremony closed with three salvos of artillery, the sounding of Taps, and the National Salute.

Under authority of Public Law 429, 79th Congress, Approved 24 June 1946.  13 Unknown Americans who lost their lives while serving overseas in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War II were exhumed from American cemeteries in Europe and Africa and shipped in identical caskets to Epinal, France.  Major General Edward J. O'Neill, US Army, on May 12, 1958, solemnly chose from among these caskets one to be designated as the Trans Atlantic candidate Unknown.  The remaining unknown Americans were reinterred.
The remains of two unknown Americans were disinterred on April 15, 1958 from the National Cemetery of the Pacific, Hawaii, and four unknowns were disinterred from the Fort McKinley American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines.  The six unknowns wee then taken to Hickam Air Force Base, where on May 16, 1958, Colonel Glenn T. Eagleston, US Air Force, placed a white carnation lei, selecting the candidate Unknown to represent the Trans Pacific Phase of World War II.  The five other caskets were reinterred.

The candidate unknown was then transported to the cruiser Canberra where the final selection of the World War II unknown took place on the after-missile deck of the Canberra.  Hospitalman First Class William R. Charette, the Navy's only active enlisted holder of the Medal of Honor, had the distinction of making the selection of the World War II unknown.  After a moments hesitation he placed a wreath at the foot of the casket on his right.  This was the Unknown of World War II.  The unknown not selected received a sailor's burial at sea.

Under authority of Public Law 972, 84th Congress, approved August 3, 1956, 4 unknown Americans who lost their lives while serving overseas in the Armed Forces of the United States during the Korean Conflict were exhumed from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.  On May 15, 1958 Master Sergeant Ned Lyle, US Army, holding a carnation wreath stood momentarily silent before the four identical flag-draped caskets.  He placed the wreath on the end casket to signify the selection of the Korean War Unknown.  The remaining unknown Americans were reinterred at the National Cemetery of the Pacific.  The Unknown of Korea was transported to the Cruiser Canberra to join the Unknown of World War II.
At sea off Norfolk, Virginia, the Unknowns of World War II and Korea were transferred to the Destroyer Blandy, which brought them to the Nation's Capitol.  Upon their arrival on May 28, 1958 the Unknowns were taken to the Rotunda of the Nation's Capitol, to rest in state until Memorial Day, May 30, 1958.  The Unknowns were then moved to the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery and there before the distinguished guests, the President awarded the Medal of Honor to each.  After the services, they were borne to this plaza, and following religious rites, they received a 21 Gun Salute.  The services concluded with the firing of three volleys and the sounding of Taps.

In 1973 Congress passed Public Law 93-43 directing the Secretary of Defense to inter an unknown American serviceman from the Vietnam Conflict at The Tomb of the Unknowns.  The sophisticated identification techniques were remarkably efficient, and it was not until 1984 that remains of an American serviceman were classified as unidentifiable.
During ceremonies at Pearl Harbor on May 17, 1984, Sgt. Maj. Allan Kellogg, Jr., A Medal of Honor recipient during the Vietnam Conflict, placed a wreath before the casket, formally designating the Unknown from the Vietnam Conflict.  The Unknown was placed aboard the USS Brewton for transport to the mainland United States.

The Unknown arrived at the U.S. Capitol on May 25, 1984, where he lay in state for three days in the Rotunda.  On Memorial Day, May 28, 1984, an elaborate funeral procession transferred the body to the Memorial Amphitheater.  During the service, President Ronald Reagan presented the Medal of Honor to the Unknown.  The Vietnam Unknown was then borne to the plaza and following religious rites, a 21 Gun Salute was rendered.  The solemn service concluded with 3 volleys of rifle fire, followed by the sounding of Taps.

Thanks to Arlington National Cemetery and Home of the Heroes for the above.

General Douglas Mac Arthur addressed the USMA in a most moving speech:

General Douglas MacArthur, who delivered his address on "Duty, Honor and Country," without the assistance of teleprompters, or even notes.

His words immortalize the spirit of all American Patriots who have served our nation in uniform:

Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man at arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefields many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then, as I regard him now, as one of the world's noblest figures; not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless.

His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give. He needs no eulogy from me, or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast.

But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements.

In twenty campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people.

From one end of the world to the other, he has drained deep the chalice of courage. As I listened to those songs of the glee club, in memory's eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs on many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle deep through mire of shell-pocked roads; to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.

I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always for them: Duty, Honor, Country. Always their blood, and sweat, and tears, as they saw the way and the light.

And twenty years after, on the other side of the globe, against the filth of dirty foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts, those boiling suns of the relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms, the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails, the bitterness of long separation of those they loved and cherished, the deadly pestilence of tropic disease, the horror of stricken areas of war.

Honor Justice and Humanity

Thomas Jefferson offered this advice to all generations of Patriots: "Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them."


We owe a great debt of gratitude to all those generations who have passed the torch of liberty to succeeding generations.

In Memoriam, we recall these words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

"Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours."

And these...

"[L]et us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died." --Ronald Reagan at Pointe du Hoc, 1984


Arlington National Cemetery

The unknown soldier has served, sacrificed and paid with their lives on battlefields, wars and conflicts all around the world. Lest we forget that the unknown soldier is not just an American soldier but one that fell in honor and duty as our allies, our TRUE allies and we know who they are. An honor that I and we should have no problem honoring, and I do not. How many have fallen and were never returned home to there loved ones? In my heart I know that we will never know that exact number and if we did it would most certainly horrify our politically correct, sanitized world of today.

I am an American and Memorial Day is special in our home. Sure, it is about a barbeque and we have Salmon steaks, Ling Cod and other delights marinating for the grill. It does not matter that it will at best, be 55 degrees out, raining and almost June. Today is about honor, duty, dedication, service, and that ultimate sacrifice that so many in our nation know all too well. I have many, many friends as many of have who have, who have lost sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, husbands, wives, and the list goes on. Iraq, Afghanistan, Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, World War II. World war I, Spanish American War, Our Civil War with perhaps the MOST unknown soldiers from any of our conflicts, War of 1812, and our Revolutionary War. I have friends who were lost in 'Nam.They were never were found and are still MIA but we know who they are.

The Unknown Soldier's Tomb is one of the most visited places in our country and perhaps THE most visited.  I once had a friend who had NEVER heard of the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier and thought it was a a silly memorial to have. He thought it a waste of time and it did not matter how my Mom and I tried to convince him otherwise. One day he finally understood. It was 1968 and his uncle had gone MIA in Vietnam. Days turned into week and the weeks into months, then they blurred into years. My friend passed away six years ago, his uncle still MIA. This is what took for him to understand why the Tomb Of Unknown Soldier was there. All across our free and fair land this Tomb has been the only Memorial so many have come to know that honors what they lost.

I stand in the shadows of Greatness

I stand in the shadows of Greatness. On this day we honor all who have served and fallen. A debt we can never repay, one that none of us should ever forget, lest step up and take that fall.

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