Why does Memorial Day hit me so hard?

By Jim Eddy

Memorial Day, it’s always a difficult weekend for me. I sometimes don’t know why really, I wasn’t in the service; I wasn’t a member of the armed forces, so why does it hit me so hard?

I was born into the U.S. Navy in 1952; it’s the only life I knew until I was 25. My dad was a US Naval Academy 1939 graduate and a Pearl Harbor survivor.

Through those 25 years I met WWII survivors, navy pilots, admirals, navy divers, generals, sailors, marines, army personnel, Air Force personnel, Viet Nam vets, Blue Angels, and GI’s who had seen the worst battles ever. I lived in Washington, D.C. and stood solemnly at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a young boy. My father took me to the rusty and submerged remains of the USS Arizona prior to the existence of the memorial when I was in the first grade.

To be the son of a U.S. Navy Captain was an experience that is an honor. I visited aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and battleships. During those visits the members and crew of the ships treated me with dignity and respect, not to mention the ice cream in the mess hall. I will never forget those days I had as a child and teenager.

When my parents had cocktail parties, the visiting Admirals or Generals asked especially to view my ship and airplane models. They were honestly interested in my model building interests. A returning Viet Nam Marine corporal helped me to build my first car. And last, but by no means least, my father was a survivor, a skipper, and my personal navy veteran.

His passing included a 21-gun salute and military funeral. So Memorial Day to me is all of these wonderful memories and the wonderful military personnel I had the pleasure to meet in my younger years. It is so much more than one can ever imagine, military life–it’s a life of its own, and for U.S. military brats we feel it deep, even years after our folks are gone, we still feel that feeling.

Happy Memorial Day to all of the veterans and my fellow and current military BRATS, who willingly went/go where we are told to go and always keep/kept our fear at bay when our mom or dad is/was deployed.


The Civil War Ends

Shortly after noon, 150 years ago on April 13th, General Robert E. Lee, Commander for the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, and General Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the Union Army, met at the home of Wilmer McLean in Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The meeting took place on Palm Sunday and lasted roughly an hour and a half, ending in Lee surrendering to Grant.

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Terms of the surrender included the Union taking all the rebel officers and soldiers, their arms, artillery, and public property; but officers would retain their side-arms, private baggage and horses. Each officer and man was allowed to return to their homes, and not be disturbed.

Although General Lee surrendered, other Confederate generals and Confederate President Jefferson Davis did not. It was not until June 1865, after Jefferson Davis’ capture in May 1865, and Generals Alexander McDowell McCook and Joseph “Joe” E. Johnston had surrendered, that the war was considered over.  Jefferson Davis, General Grant, Lee, McCook, and Johnston were all graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY.

The Civil War transformed America in countless ways and resulted in the greatest expansion of veterans benefits in history (at that time): the first National Cemeteries and burial benefits were authorized, benefits for Regular and Volunteer forces were equalized, first benefits for African Americans who served in Union forces, government-furnished prosthetics, pensions to provide for caretakers, veterans preference in hiring, and the first National Homes which evolved into today’s federal veterans hospital system were all founded as a result of the war.

The National Park Service is commemorating the anniversary with a national bell-ringing across the land today and some VA sites are participating.

Links:

http://www.nps.gov/apco/the-surrender.htm

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/appomattox-courthouse/appomattox-court-house-history/surrender.html

http://my.chicagotribune.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-83254728/

Story: VA Historian


Gallup, NM: The Most Patriotic Small Town in America

by Kenneth Riege

John Wayne frequented it while filming numerous movies.  Bob Dylan once claimed he was from here.  Nat King Cole and John Mayer have sung about it in “Route 66.”   Gallup, New Mexico is a unique hub of culture. Often called the “Indian Capital of the United States” it draws from these cultures, making our community a stronger and a more interesting place to live.

Gallup is steeped in history and traditions and “Gallupians” (as we proudly call ourselves) stand together to protect what’s right.  Never was this more evident than during WWII as many American citizens of Japanese Ancestry were being transported from communities across the United States to war relocation camps. However, Gallup stood strong and said “NO” to this order.  We protected our citizens and our community.  This is commonly referred to as being “Gallup Strong.”

From the Spanish American War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, “Gallupians” have answered the “call to duty” and have served in all five branches of the armed forces protecting our families, our community, and our way of life.  Gallup has been shaped by its praiseworthy and historic veterans, including the Navajo Code Talkers and Medal of Honor Recipient, Mr. Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura.

During WWII, the United States created communication codes for battle, but these codes were continuously broken, until the Navajo Code Talkers used their language to create an unbreakable code.  Their code helped bring an end to the bloody battles in the Pacific saving thousands of lives on both sides.  Gallup’s population is primarily Native Americans many of which are direct decedents of the Code Talkers.  This direct blood line and our deep patriotic spirit explain why so many young men and women join the military straight out of high school.  Another fine example of being “Gallup Strong.”

codetalkersIn Korea on April 24 – 25, 1951 Hershey held off wave after wave of enemy soldiers while protecting the lives of hundreds of American’s without regard to his own.  Hershey is “Gallup Strong.” These actions earned Hershey the Medal of Honor, but Hershey still endured more than two and a half years in a POW Camp. Hershey credited his faith, love of country and obligation to his community for his survival.   Gallup has recognized his heroic acts and significant contributions to the community by honoring him as the namesake of one of the local high schools, an overpass and a park.

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Another great example of being “Gallup Strong” is the Veterans Helping Veterans organization.  This group was formed by veterans to assist other veterans and our community.  Whether it’s raising money for a veterans by “passing the hat” at meetings to help with a utility bill or rent, to hosting large “Stand Downs” which are 1 to 3 days events providing assistance to homeless veterans.

Gallup’s patriotism can be seen everywhere.  In our Veterans Memorial Plaza stand 12 pillars with the names of those who have selflessly served and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Our patriotism can be seen in the WWII veteran struggling to come to attention as a flag passes to our children who respectfully refer to the American Flag as “Ten Hut.”  It’s in our blood, it’s our heritage, and it’s who we are:  it’s being “Gallup Strong.”

“Gallupians” young and old rejoice in knowing the best way to honor and respect those who have fought for our freedoms is to enjoy every day to its fullest and to never take these freedoms for granted.  This is what patriotism is all about:  that is being “Gallup Strong.”


The El Paso (TX) Veteran’s Day Parade

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Millie Woods

I was honored to have been invited to ride on the 82nd Airborne’s float in the El Paso Veterans Day Parade today, with WWII veterans and one Viet Nam veteran.  I met a lot of patriotic Americans today.  The spectators, several thousand, were very respectful, waving, saluting, and shouting “Thank you for your service”.

 

The first photo is a church group.  The gent with the blackened face and the Captain in the back center are the group leaders, teaching these young men discipline, skills, etc., but they made it clear that their main thrust is spiritual.  What a dynamite combination.  I was particularly impressed with the young mens eye contact, acknowledgment, and recognition of most every adult whose path they crossed, stopping to shake hands with many.  They are being given the right kind of training in preparation for becoming the American leaders of the future.  Another group wore patches that read “Young Marines”.  There was also a group of young men and women wearing Navy and Air Force uniforms, every one well behaved, a tribute to the uniform they were wearing.  I have to tell you that I was very impressed with the involvement of young people, all marching in cadence like they had done it all their lives.   It was a GREAT Veterans Day celebration.

 

 

2014 Downtown El Paso – Veterans Day Parade

By John Ceballos ·

 Paratroopers of the Benavidez-Patterson “All Airborne” Chapter, 82nd Airborne Division Association, Inc., were joined by Members of the “Royal Rangers, Outpost 62”: U. S. Congressman, Beto O’Rourke; El Paso County Judge, Veronica Escobar and Former City Representative (District 2), Susie Byrd, for the 2014 Edition of the Downtown El Paso, Texas, Veterans Day Parade! Also on hand: Marvin & Millie Woods from Alto, New Mexico!

 

 

 

 

 


“Stand for the Fallen” is Coming to Rio Rancho, NM

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Rio Grande and Valencia County Blue Star Mothers Show Their Support

The Wall That Heals Transported to Ft. Marcy Park in Santa Fe

 “Thank you” to all who came out on such a short notice to show your support.  What a great experience, although a cold one, we had together.  There were 13 of us that braved the bone chilling wind and the freezing temperatures above I-25 on the Algodones Overpass Tuesday to show our support as the Wall That Heals was escorted to Santa Fe.   With banners and window flags on our cars, we waved our big American flags for about an hour as it took longer than expected for the semi-truck carrying the Wall and its entourage to reach our location.  None of us seemed to mind, though.  We proudly waved our flags with frozen fingers and noses hearing lots of support from passing motorists until we finally spotted the flashing lights of the State Police clearing the way for the Wall.  It was a touching sight to see it traveling surrounded by American Legion and Patriot Guard Riders.   Pictures are attached courtesy of Gloria, our sister Blue Star Mother from the Valencia County Chapter, who joined us.

Honoring Those Who Serve!

Welcome Home Committee

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First Press Release About our Upcoming Exhibit in May 2014

Sacrifice & Service