American Elephants


Memorial Day in the Village of Margraten, in the Netherlands. by The Elephant's Child
May 25, 2015, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,

In November, 1944 the bodies of American soldiers who had been killed in nearby battles arrived in the village of Margraten, in the Netherlands. The war wasn’t over, and booby-traps and heavy artillery fire killed thousands of American soldiers trying to pierce the German defense lines during the ill-fated Operation Market Garden. The U.S military needed a place to bury its fallen. The Americans ultimately picked a fruit orchard just outside Margraten.

Right from the start the people of Margraten took the Americans to their hearts. The company commanders stayed in the Mayor’s home and the enlisted men slept in the schools.

“After four dark years of occupation, suddenly [the Dutch] people were free from the Nazis, and they could go back to their normal lives and enjoy all the freedoms they were used to,” explained Frenk Lahaye, an associate at the cemetery. “They knew they had to thank the American allies for that.”…

Between late 1944 and spring 1945, up to 500 bodies arrived each day, so many that the mayor went door to door asking villagers for help with the digging.

Over the next two years, about 17,740 American soldiers would be buried here, though the number of graves would shrink as thousands of families asked for their loved ones’ remains to be sent home.

On May 29, 1945, 20 trucks from the 611th collected flowers from 60 different Dutch villages. Nearly 200 Dutch men, women and children spent all night arranging flowers and wreaths by the dirt-covered graves and their makeshift wooden crosses and Stars of David.

The adoption program was the brainchild of the town clerk and a local pastor. Every grave has a volunteer caretaker, and a waiting list.

For 70 years the Dutch have come to a verdant cemetery outside this small village to care for the graves of Americans killed in World War II. Today they came again bearing Memorial Day bouquets for men and women they never met, passing the responsibility from one generation to another.

Here is a film of that first Memorial Day in Margraten, in the Netherlands in 1945,   No color, no sound, but it’s not needed. Very moving.



The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by The Elephant's Child
May 30, 2011, 6:27 am
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Military | Tags: , ,
Tomb

seal

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as answer number one.

3. Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.  After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

5.  How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, and 365 days a year.

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
A person who applies for guard duty at the tomb must be between 5′ 10″ and 6′ 2″ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30″.

Other requirements of the Guard: they must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform (by fighting) or the tomb in any way.  After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb.  There are only 400 presently worn.

The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet.  There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.  There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform.  Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

During the first six months of duty a guard may not talk to anyone, nor watch TV. Off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.  Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis (the boxer) and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, (the most decorated soldier of WWII) of Hollywood fame.  Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD, AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington D.C., our U.S. Senate and House took 2 days off in anticipation of the storm.  On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend their assignment.   They respectfully declined the offer, “No way, Sir!”  Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment; it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person.

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

One tomb is empty: the Vietnam Tomb.  It was later discovered who was in the tomb.  The family had the remains removed and buried with military honors. Congress decided to leave the tomb empty.  Fox News carried the full live service at the tombs.  The other channels passed it by.  All who have served understand the bond.  Freedom is never free.

R. Harper

This is a re-post from Memorial Day, 2009.



We Remember Them All, From All The Wars. by The Elephant's Child
May 30, 2011, 6:14 am
Filed under: Freedom, History, Military, Politics | Tags: , ,

Filed under: Freedom, History, Military, The Elephant’s Child | Tags: , ,

There is a story my mother told to me, and her grandfather told to her.  When he was small — about my mother’s age at the time — he was sitting at his grandmother’s knee.  She told him the story of the time when she was small, and about his age, in Connecticut.  It was a beautiful spring day,  her father was plowing, and she was walking in the furrow behind him, smelling the sweet earth as the plow turned the soil.

They heard the sound of a horse galloping up the lane, and a man shouting.  Her father dropped the reins of his horse and ran for the house. Catherine gathered up her skirts and ran after him.  She met him at the door, his musket in hand.  He gathered her up and kissed her goodbye and ran for his horse.  He was a Captain of Minute Men.  The British were raiding.  She never saw her father again.  They brought his body  home after the battle.

Men have been dying for freedom and home, their comrades, and friends and family for a very long time.  Today we remember them all, from all the wars, with sorrow and gratitude.



Rolling Thunder, May 31, 2010, A Marine’s Vigil. by The Elephant's Child
June 18, 2010, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, Military | Tags: , ,

On Memorial Day, May 31, 2010, Rolling Thunder — a national motorcycle rally — came to Washington D.C. to pay tribute to fallen comrades and to those who have not returned.   Here, a solitary Marine holds vigil at full attention for the three hours of the tribute.  An emotional experience.



Remembering. Memorial Day, 2010. by The Elephant's Child
May 30, 2010, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Freedom, History, Military | Tags: , ,

There is a story my mother told to me, and her grandfather told to her.  When he was small — about my mother’s age at the time — he was sitting at his grandmother’s knee.  She told him the story of the time when she was small, and about his age, in Connecticut.  It was a beautiful spring day,  her father was plowing, and she was walking in the furrow behind him, smelling the sweet earth as the plow turned the soil.

They heard the sound of a horse galloping up the lane, and a man shouting.  Her father dropped the reins of his horse and ran for the house. Catherine gathered up her skirts and ran after him.  She met him at the door, his musket in hand.  He gathered her up and kissed her goodbye and ran for his horse.  He was a Captain of Minute Men.  The British were raiding.  She never saw her father again.  They brought his body  home after the battle.

Men have been dying for freedom and home, their comrades, and friends and family for a very long time.  Today we remember them all, from all the wars, with sorrow and gratitude.

(video via Blackfive)



“Plug the Damn Hole!…I’m Going on Vacation!(Again)” by American Elephant
May 26, 2010, 5:54 am
Filed under: Military, News, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , , ,

Apparently all the parties, golfing and vacations are tuckering poor Obama out…or perhaps the people running the administration are just tired of him getting underfoot, because this is the second time they’ve sent him away on vacation since his disastrous delay in responding to what is now, because of that delay, the biggest oil spill in American history.

But give him a break! Destroying health care, the auto industry, the housing sector, the economy, banking, international relations, individual liberty, the rule of law, your life savings and the environment is hard work!

Besides, it’s not like he didn’t leave the country with a clear, decisive plan of action in his absence — “Plug the damn hole!” he explained.

And people said he wasn’t qualified!

But before you worry that Obama is neglecting important duties to steal away another vacation in time of crisis, rest easy. While it’s true the Commander in Chief didn’t feel he could spare the time from his vital vacation obligations to honor our war dead at the traditional Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington — he WILL, thankfully, make it back just in time to honor Paul McCartney at the White House and was able to squeeze in yet another fund-raiser for Barbara Boxer.

Nice to see he still has his priorities straight.



Tomb of The Unknown Soldier by The Elephant's Child
May 25, 2009, 3:14 pm
Filed under: Freedom, History, Military | Tags: , ,

Tomb

seal

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as answer number one.

3. Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.  After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

5.  How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, and 365 days a year.

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
A person who applies for guard duty at the tomb must be between 5′ 10″ and 6′ 2″ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30″.

Other requirements of the Guard: they must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform (by fighting) or the tomb in any way.  After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb.  There are only 400 presently worn.

The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet.  There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.  There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform.  Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

During the first six months of duty a guard may not talk to anyone, nor watch TV. Off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.  Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis (the boxer) and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, (the most decorated soldier of WWII) of Hollywood fame.  Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD, AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington D.C., our U.S. Senate and House took 2 days off in anticipation of the storm.  On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend their assignment.   They respectfully declined the offer, “No way, Sir!”  Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment; it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person.

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

One tomb is empty: the Vietnam Tomb.  It was later discovered who was in the tomb.  The family had the remains removed and buried with military honors. Congress decided to leave the tomb empty.  Fox News carried the full live service at the tombs.  The other channels passed it by.  All who have served understand the bond.  Freedom is never free.

R. Harper




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