Memorial Day Salute


Monday, May 30, 2005 is Memorial Day. It is the day our Nation has dedicated for honoring our men and women presently serving in the Armed Forces. It is the day our nation pays homage and mourns all our fallen soldiers in past conflicts. It is the day we will stand together as a nation and pay our respects to those lost in the present War on terror. On this day we honor our soldiers for their sacrifices as they lay in Va Hospitals with the scars of battle they incurred defending this country. We also honor their families and loved ones for all they too have sacrificed in the name of freedom.

On this day we will also feel and share the agony felt by those families who still wait for word on their missing loved ones both in past conflicts and the present conflict.

I have to think in my heart that this day is hardest for those families. They have no closure. They don’t know whether their loved ones are dead or prisoners in some cases. Others may know in their heart that their loved ones are gone but have no remains to bury. No graves upon which to place flowers or the American flag.

All they are left with is a question mark and a whole in their hearts that won’t stop hurting. Many feel betrayed by their country for leaving their loved ones behind. In Vietnam many were left behind as prisoners of war, though our country repeatedly denied their existence. The political climate became more important than the admission that our troops had been left behind as prisoners.

We are still having bodies returned from Vietnam and Korea. I don’t know how many or if any Americans were left behind in Korea. I do know that we left our dead behind in Somalia and the world watched as those bodies were desecrated. During Desert Storm a pilot went down during the first wave of our invasion. It was only after years of persistence on the part of the family, a buddy, and a Congressman that the Government admitted that no one ever tried to recover this pilot which was contrary to original information given the family.

But, that pilot has now, finally, been reclassified as a pow. There were rumors and supposed intel to indicate that Saddam still held him prisoner. So far he has not been recovered. None knows whether or not he is dead or alive. Now we come to Matt Maupin. Unless something has drastically changed, Matt cannot be classified as a POW. The “normal” rules of war “do not” apply. Once major conflict was officially declared over, Matt was placed into a limbo state without normal war time protection. The guidelines do not specifically make stipulations for terrorists related activity. Not only that but the guidelines for the Purple Heart, Our nations oldest Medal given out by George Washington,
do not cover all the cases of injury or death tom our troops at the hand of terrorists acts.

There is a petition to change the regulations on terrorism and POW/MIA’s. I have a separate petition to amend the guidelines for the Purple Heart. When I originally started my Petition I was trying to get my nephew his Purple Heart. Last week I found out that due to lies of a fellow Navy man, we were misled about MIke’s death. He is now ineligible for the Purple Heart even if the guidelines are changed to reflect present day terrorists acts and wars. He was killed when the driver of his vehicle made an illegal turn into an oncoming, speeding vehicle.

But what about those men and women who are injured in legitimate terrorists acts but fall outside the present guidelines. Not only are they denied an honor they earned with their life’s blood, there are VA benefits which they lose out on because of being awarded a medal they earned. It’s not the medal. It’s the damn principle of the whole thing.

This time if we really want to honor our troops then “don’t leave any behind,” dead or alive, no POW’s, no MIA’s. Oh wait, I forgot, we can’t classify any as POWs or MIAs! Bottom line, I don’t care how they are classified, we leave “no one behind.” So as you celebrate and honor your loved ones, please keep in mind those missing men and women. Bring Matt home. Bring Capt. Speicher home. Dead or alive, bring him home!! What about Matt Maupin? What is being done to secure his release.

It is not my intention to place blame. Rather to point out that as warfare has changed so must our guidelines which we have in place to protect our troops and provide for our families. Let’s get the regulations changed to prevent another captured soldier from falling into this limbo area, this no mans land where no current regulations do not adequately protect our troops.

Finally , I offer a verse from a song written by my nephew as a tribute to our troops both fallen and actively deployed.

“Doesn’t Heaven sound like a beautiful place?
And I’m ready for the day I see his face.
Won’t be no guns.
won’t be no knives.
Hear the best preaching that
you ever heard in your lives.”
[by: PO2 Michael J. Gray, killed in Kuwait, March 5,2004]
Take care Mike, I love you! Rest in peace!

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~ by devildog6771 on May 23, 2005.

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