Remembering veterans everywhere

i would hope that each and everyone take a moment today to remember all who have served and who now serve in the armed forces for their sacrifice, some greater than others with their lives.

This comes on a personal memory for me with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. It was a dark October night in 1961 when my outfit the 24th Infantry Battle group stationed in Munich Germany was put on alert, we always had them and thought nothing of it until we got to our alert waiting area, waited a bit then drove to somewhere in germany and were issued live ammunition. Whoa this didn’t normally happen, it never happened before. We learned of a crisis as we waited across some field to act as a speed bump against a better equipped  Russian army with our ww 2 weapons. I wonder where my buddies from my recon platoon are now, 12 guys and four jeeps, lots of laughs and tears as people got hurt but we survived.

I was discharged from my unit shortly afterwards when things calmed down and returned to New Jersey. East Germany built the wall and we learned to live with it. Disturbing pictures on the news of people trying to escape being gunned down occasionally flashed on our news screens but nothing really changed in my life as i grew and lived building a career.

I was amazed at my emotions on November 9,1989 seeing picture of the wall being pulled down on television as pictures flashed across the television screen and my personal screen remembered that unnamed German field.

Now here it is 25 years later and the German people are celebrating and remembering the walls fall.

War kills and injures so many innocent people along with soldiers. I wonder why we do this? Is killing mankind’s fate, must we kill everything? Sometimes we defend our way of life other times we take away others. It’s so cruel.

the songs that always get to me, every time are Taps and  Saving Grace even though i don’t believe in a god they sing about I think we all could use a little grace in our lives.

A'Kavehe'onahe, limber bones

A’Kavehe’onahe, limber bones

7th Cavalry soldier grave marker.

7th Cavalry soldier grave marker.

Ernst Hass 2008 Poppies

Ernst Hass 2008 Poppies

Flanders Field poppies

Flanders Field poppies

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

This was the poem written by World War I Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon with Canada’s First Brigade Artillery. It expressed McCrae’s grief over the “row on row” of graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders’ battlefields, located in a region of western Belgium and northern France. The poem presented a striking image of the bright red flowers blooming among the rows of white crosses and became a rallying cry to all who fought in the First World War. The first printed version of it reportedly was in December 1915, in the British magazine Punch.

McCrae’s poem had a huge impact on two women, Anna E. Guerin of France and Georgia native Moina Michael. Both worked hard to initiate the sale of artificial poppies to help orphans and others left destitute by the war. By 1920, when Guerin, with the help of the American Legion, established the first poppy sale in the U.S., the flower was well known in the allied countries — America, Britain, France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — as the “Flower of Remembrance.” Proceeds from that first sale went to the American and French Children’s League.

Guerin had troubles with the distribution of the poppies in early 1922 and sought out Michael for help. Michael had started a smaller-scaled Poppy Day during a YMCA conference she was attending in New York and wanted to use the poppies as a symbol of remembrance of the war. Guerin, called the “Poppy Lady of France” in her homeland, and Michael, later dubbed “The Poppy Princess” by the Georgia legislature, went to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for help.

The poppy was adopted as the official memorial flower of the VFW at its national convention in Seattle, Wash., in August 1922, following the first nationwide distribution of poppies ever conducted by any veterans organization.

In 1923, faced by a shortage of poppies from French manufacturers, the VFW relied on New York florists to make up the difference. This was a huge setback, however, and led to the idea by VFW officials to use unemployed and disabled veterans to produce the artificial flower. This concept was approved in late 1923 and the first poppy factory was built in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1924. This provided a practical means of assistance to veterans and also ensured a steady, reliable source of poppies. Veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities and veterans homes help assemble the poppies, and each year the VFW distributes roughly 14 million worldwide.

It was around the same time the first poppy factory was built that the VFW registered the name “Buddy Poppy” with the U.S. Patent Office. The term “Buddy” was coined by the poppy makers as a tribute to their comrades who did not come home from the war or who were scarred and crippled for life.

The VFW celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Buddy Poppy as its official flower in 1997. While profits from its sales have helped countless veterans and their widows, widowers and orphans over the years, the poppy itself survives as a perpetual tribute to those who have given their lives for the nation’s freedom.

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