The "Memorial" in Memorial Day has been ignored by too many of us who are beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, according to USMemorialDay.org
Often we do not observe the day as it should be, a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice:
*by visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
*by visiting memorials.
*by flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.
*by flying the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act).
*by participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance
": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps
to be played.
*by renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our falled dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.
I'm on a wonderful email list provided by CatholicMil.org. Today, I received an informative item regarding Memorial Day. In it, I received this touching Air Force poster along with other information including a link to a homily presented on Nov. 19, 2000, by the late Pope John Paul II. Here are two wonderful excerpts of his words:
Who better than you, dear soldiers and members of the police, young men and women, can testify to the violence and to the disruptive forces of evil present in the world? You fight against them every day: indeed, you are called to defend the weak, to protect the honest, to foster the peaceful coexistence of peoples. The role of the sentinel, who scans the horizon to avert danger and promote justice and peace everywhere, befits each of you.
I would like to offer a tribute to your many friends who have paid with their lives for fidelity to their mission. Forgetting themselves and despising danger, they rendered the community a priceless service. Today, during the Eucharistic celebration, we entrust them to the Lord with gratitude and admiration. But where did they find the strength necessary to do their duty to the full, other than in total adherence to the professed ideals? Many of them believed in Christ, and his words illumined their existence and gave exemplary value to their sacrifice. They made the Gospel their code of conduct. May the example of your colleagues, who in faithfully doing their duty reached the heights of heroism and, perhaps, of holiness, be an example to you."
Fallen military, to me, should also include those who sacrificed their well-being for our country and freedoms, too. Currently, there are 297 Catholic chaplains in the military ministering to 1.2 million Catholics in their pastoral care. In a special Memorial Day issue, National Catholic Register features a front page article entitled "They Paid the Ultimate Price" written by Paul A. Barra. The article mentions the only chaplain casualty in the War Against Terrorism: Father Timothy Vakoc. He now lives in a Minneapolis VA hospital , from what I can tell by researching on the Internet briefly this morning. Last year, he received U.S. Army's Combat Action Badge in a special ceremony
. A year ago, an article
said Father Tim reads emails sent to him. There is a link there with his address for cards and correspondence, too. I think it would be great for people to send him a card and their prayers for him. Father Tim inspires
all those who know him, from what I can tell. I'm not sure you could find a better blessing.
God Bless You, Father Tim.
Additionally, an Internet friend of mine, USMCR Retired RH, said he will be remembering the following individuals and I thought we could all pause to remember them, today, too.
Army PFC Randal “Randy” Boyd. Killed in action 02 June 1971, Republic of Viet Nam . 20 years old. Randy was killed instantly by a mortar round that landed right next to him.
Marine PVT Willam Raymond Hardin, a permanent resident of the Veterans Administration Hospital due to service in Viet Nam . 1971. 20 years old.Marine 2nd Lt. Darren Bell
, who died with 18 other Marines in a CH53helicopter crash in a mountainous region of South Korea during Exercise Team Spirit on 20 March 1989. 23 years old.Marine Major Gerry “Beave” Bloomfield.
On Nov. 2, 2005, Gerry was piloting an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter was shot down while flying very low to the ground in support of Marines in combat. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility. (also killed Capt. Michael Martino, 32, of Fairfax , Va. ), The helicopter crashed during daylong fighting Wednesday in the insurgent stronghold 70 miles west of Baghdad . Besides Gerry and Mike, an American Army lieutenant, 2nd Lt. Mark J. Procopio, 28, of Stowe , Vt , died when a bomb exploded as he was rushing to Gerry’s crash site. Gerry is survived by wife Julie and 13-year-old son Ryan.
The Flag Code states: "To place the flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered. On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset."