Monday, May 31, 2010

Remembering our Fallen Heroes


I trust that this posting will find all of you doing well and hopefully enjoying the Memorial Day weekend. This holiday is about remembering -- the sacrifices of the few for the many, our fallen heroes, and those who have paid the ultimates cost in defense of our freedoms. In between the Barbecues, parades, and auto races, I hope that we will remember the true meaning behind this holiday.

On May 5, 1866, the village of Waterloo, New York was decorated with flags at half mast, draped with evergreens and mourning black to praise the living Union veterans of the Civil War and to remember the patriotic dead. Veterans, civic societies, and residents, led by General John B. Murray, marched to the village cemeteries and placed flowers on the graves of those who gave their lives during the war. Thus began the first Memorial Day observance.

Benjamin Harrison, our 23rd President who served during the Civil War as a Brigadier General of the Tenth Corps of the Army of the Cumberland stated, "I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it. We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did."

Today is a day to remember not only those who died but also how they lived and what they lived for.

Having spent last week in Afghanistan, I certainly have recent memories of our warriors and all they are doing in defense of freedom. They are taking on a very difficult mission, in extremely complex terrain and environmental conditions, and are truly making a difference. They are proud of their accomplishments, confident in themselves and their leaders, and ready to do whatever it takes to finish the job. We have much to be thankful for that young men and women are willing to put their lives on hold, to leave their families and personal aspirations behind, and to sacrifice so much for the Afghan people and for all peace-loving people. God bless them all and their mission.

While I have much more to report on my quick trip to Afghanistan and my pending deployment in about a month, and all of the leadership implications of both, I think the focus today should be in how we honor -- and remember -- those who have given so much. That's Leader Business. Hooah!

1 comment:

Aridog said...

Col Magness....

Long time since we've met, but I'll never forget you. Among other things, you are the only Commander I ever worked for as a DA Civilian in USACE that I'd have willingly followed in to harm's way. No exceptions. The first I'd met since I wore the uniform myself.

Little things stick in one's mind...among them is that day when we we were trying to sort out one of the usual administrative cluster-bundles and I offered to lie in order to keep the political types happy.

You were explicit in directions that I should not do so, that you would take whatever heat might come down the pipe, that I should just continue to do the best that I could.

There was "heat" and you took it, backing me on every step. We turned out to be right, but what I remember is that you knew it up front...and refused to put lipstick on a pig.

When someone gives me that frankness, I pay attention.

Take care in your future assignments and deployments.

R.Thompson, USACE-Detroit, Retired.