Let me be the first to wish you all a very safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend. If you get a chance, take in a local veterans event, be it a parade, remembrance, event, service, or whatever. It’s somber, poignant, and makes you think. But it’s also an education.
Also, if you happen to be out and about and you see the Veterans of Foreign Wars giving away red poppies, stop and get you one. They are on a donation basis (whatever you want to donate), and ALL donations go to the posts who in turn donate to many community charities that they support. If nothing else, stop by and thank one of our veterans groups. Talk to them and let you know you care.
Memorial Day – My Loss. This Memorial Day Weekend will be a lot harder for me. I want to talk about a man that we veterans here lost this past Sunday Morning, a member of the Greatest Generation. Nick was an incredible man, a man who was about as close to a role model in terms of a military man than I ever met in my life, and I had already been retired for ten years!
If you will indulge me, let me share a few quick stories.
- Nick was a 95 year old Purple Heart winner. He was a scout sniper in World War 2 and was involved in the invasions of islands in the Pacific when he was shot. He went on to earn his engineering degree and own a business, not to mention his role in working with veterans organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Marine Corps League, and Order of the Purple Heart. Nick never told us exactly what happened on the islands, but I heard recently, and it was amazing.
- Nick had this air of authority, and you knew it the minute you walked into the room. The first meeting I ever attended at the VFW, you knew who was in charge, and that was Nick! He immediately put me to work as the Adjutant and Communication Committee – IT WASN’T AN INVITATION!!! I was impressed and it was that point where I became committed to the Post. I marveled at this man – a “gung ho” Marine who at 93 years young was a Post Commander, an ALL-STATE Post Commander at that? Are you kidding me? I darn well better get to work, and do it the right way the first time every time.
- I remember just back in April I believe. Nick led our monthly visit to the senior care center here locally. In singing the Marine Corps Hymn, and the loudest and proudest voice was that of Nick. I only wish that I had been allowed to take a video of that. It sounds silly coming from a 51 year old man, but I swelled with pride listening to it! By the way, Nick also started the tradition of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the senior home visits – once again the loudest and proudest voice in the room? You guessed it – Nick.
- I can remember once somebody made a comment about their “hat”. Nick heard the comment and in typical Marine fashion popped tall and said “That’s a COVER.” LOL, I knew at that point that on every occasion that I had better be squared away otherwise I’d hear about it.
To Nick’s family I want to say THANK YOU for sharing this incredible man with us veterans. Thank you for allowing us younger veterans to see what “the greatest generation” was all about. I can only hope that as I continue my journey through the VFW and the DAV that I can be just as much a role model to those coming behind me.
- There were two things that Nick wanted me to do that I didn’t: Attend the Marine Corps Ball, and join the American Legion. I will accomplish those two things – the Legion first, and it is my hope that I will lose the weight enough to look proper in my uniform for the Ball in November.
I’d like to finish with a statement we used in the Navy: “Nick’s contributions to military service and veterans brought great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps.”
RIP Nick, we now have “the watch.” You will be remembered.
Memorial Day. We’ve strayed away from what Memorial Weekend really means. BBQ’s are great and I damn sure am going to partake in that on Sunday Night, but the least I can do during this weekend is to serve to keep the legacy of the greatest generation along with all the other veterans alive.
I listen to the stories of these World War 2, Korea, and Vietnam veterans and realize the horrific price of war. You see it in their faces, and you feel it in their voices when they tell their stories, and I sit in awe with every story. You see the issues with service members coming home with the injuries, both seen and unseen and you go home and give thanks, hold your family a little tighter and give thanks to the man above.
I commit to doing what I can to make things better for them. I’m not a salesperson, recruiter, or dollar chaser, but maybe if I can communicate in ways that generate more interest in our groups and get these younger vets to see that being a member and holding our leaders accountable to their promise to take care of the veterans in need, it’ll be worth it.
Memorial Day – TV. Once again, it’s that time of year where I ask you to check out the National Memorial Day Concert on Sunday, May 29th, at 8 PM to 9:30 PM EST on the channel known as PBS. All these years and I still enjoy it. It’s a sobering, hard look at war and it’s costs, personal stories, mixed in with solid musical performances. This year the featured musician is the Beach Boys and Trace Adkins, along with the various service branches choirs and bands. Here is the link to check out the lineup.
My Memorial Day Weekend. Folks, I want you to know that I’m not ignoring the site, I quite simply have hit the busiest day of my year in terms of what I do for veterans. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I will be out doing our annual Poppy Drive. On Sunday Afternoon, I will kick back and watch the National Concert while grilling, and on Monday I will be attending our county Memorial Day ceremonies.