As I write this on Friday afternoon CNN reported the 3000th death among the coalition forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. The fallen was a 26 year-old from Shasta, California—Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan J. Wilson. He was the 1974th USA death in a war which began October 7, 2001.
Ryan joined the Navy after his graduation from Shasta High School in 2004. He was assigned to the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain.
To his parents, Tracie and James Wilson, I offer my sincerest condolences on the loss of your precious boy. He may be physically gone, but as long as you hold him in your hearts and thoughts, he will always be with you.
After the Civil War people began to remember their war dead. In 1971 the Memorial Day holiday was established by Congress as the last Monday in May.
To remember those who have fallen has been a part of human history. It seems since the beginning, when Cain killed his brother Abel, humans have fought and died and remembered.
Homer penned the Iliad and the Odyssey with its vast array of heroes who fell in epic battles. It was a story of remembrance.
King Leonidas and the 300 at the Battle of Thermopylae was a rallying cry for the Greek city-states to unite against an overwhelming horde of the greatest army on earth. Their heroic fight and deaths are still told today.
We could continue to recite from the histories of the warriors who have fought and died over the human age of occupation on this orb. Every generation has faced war and the burial of their honored dead.
On this day as you walk through the cemetery pause by the grave of a veteran who gave the last full measure of devotion and offer a moment of silence. Look at the gravestone and ponder for a moment—this was a son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister, uncle or aunt, boyfriend or girlfriend, friend and neighbor…
The breeze will touch the small flags. If you listen carefully, you may hear from the cosmic ocean those whispers of life once lived on this planet traversing the cosmos whose songs of life still faintly echo around us on the road of life.
I would like to close this post with Alfred Lord Tennyson’s 1889 poem CROSSING THE BAR:
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
G. D. Williams © 2012
US Department of Defense
Memorial Day History
Memorial Day 2012- Freedom Isn’t Free
“A Time For Choosing” President Ronald Reagan
Green Fields of France by John McDermott
World War II America (Battle Hymn of the Republic)
“The Ballad Of The Green Berets”
God Bless The USA
Together We Stand
If I Die Before You Wake
If You’re Reading This
Hymn To The Fallen