Note: I took this from my Memorial Day 2016 Blog because so much remains the same. Enjoy.
I hope whoever is remaining reading my thoughts are having a very safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend but 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. I say that because we’ve strayed away from what Memorial Weekend really means. I find what retail does with this weekend despicable. I love BBQ’s and I damn sure am going to partake in that tonight, but what’s important to me is serving to keep the legacy of the greatest generation along with all the other veterans alive.
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 relief funds. Those funds may only be used to support veterans in need or programs that serve to enhance the mission of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
If nothing else, stop by and thank one of our veterans groups. Talk to them and let you know you care because it goes a long way for my brothers and sisters.
Memorial Day – My Loss. I have gotten to that stage in my life where I’m losing more and more of my friends, and quite frankly it unnerves me a little bit. This Memorial Day Weekend will be a lot harder for me. I want to talk about a man that we veterans here lost earlier this year. Bob was an incredible man, a man who devoted his life towards veterans organizations – after retiring from the Air Force and yet again with the Civil Service.
If you will indulge me, let me share a few quick stories.
Bob was a character like no other. He embodied the tradition of the military service with the work hard and play harder mentality, but the key with Bob was that he wanted to see our veterans organizations working hard to regain their power and prestige because if not for these organizations, Congress most likely would take a dump on our brave veterans.
Bob believed in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and our mission. Our post had fallen on hard times and was close to being one of the many which had folded, due to a lot of factors. Bob made it his mission to bring in new veterans and train them up to be the new leaders of an organization in desperate need of change, both in reputation, actual performance, and leadership.
Bob also spent a lot of time with a special group of comrades who visited veterans hospitals across California trying to spread cheer and comfort to our brothers and sisters.
Bob was Air Force, but he had stories that at times I can only rival to the old sailors of the 60’s and 70’s in the Seventh Fleet. I wanted to call bullshit on him, but I’ve had independent verification of them every time. Holy crap…
In the end when Bob was really sick and nobody knew, he took on his final challenge which was to run a 22 post district and try to get it back up to what it was, a hot runner and a model for the Department of California. Bob selected me as a key member of his leadership team (I’d only been around for a few years), but he trusted me to do what needed to be done and for that I thank him.
Finally, when the state level offices were going through a chaotic time, Bob stepped in and recommended me for a job taking care of things for 300 posts and 75,000 members of our organization. He knew that change was desperately needed and that bringing in younger members was the only way to change going forward. Again, he trusted me and I will always be grateful.
It wasn’t until the very end when I got more acclimated to the surroundings of my job that Bob knew he could rest easy. I only hope that as he was going through his battle with Cancer that may have been some comfort. RIP Bob, we have “the watch.” You will be remembered.
Memorial Day. So, my team and I went out and placed flags at the graves of our veterans in my town and the next town over. Starting back on Friday, we have been soliciting donations to our Post Relief Fund by passing out poppies. Folks have responded and donated accordingly and we are doing fantastic. Tomorrow, we will be a part of the county events by attending the annual remembrance and also passing out more poppies in remembrance.
Memorial Day Weekend is an annual re-commitment to doing what I can to make things better for my brothers and sisters. 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 its costs, personal stories, mixed in with solid musical performances.
Taps. This is my solemn honor to post “Taps” for those we have lost. Bob, Danny, and so many others over this past year. This my friends is for you:
My Memorial Day Weekend. I’m spending a lot of time in remembrance, but I’m also going to relax, hit the grill and enjoy some quality time off.
So I ask you to enjoy the day tomorrow as it was meant to be – to take some time in remembrance. But at the same please take time and spend it with family, for there are many who gave their lives and their families have an empty place at their table.
Much love and respect for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. We will never forget.