Memorial Day Edition

A member of a military band from the Armed Forces of the Philippines warms up in the memorial hall where the names of fallen U.S soldiers are recorded on the walls before Memorial Day ceremonies May 30 in the American Cemetery and Memorial located in Taguig City, the Philippines. Metro Manila May 30, 2010. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

Memorial Day is a day in the U.S. to remember women and men who died during military service. It’s also become a day to recognize and honor the sacrifices that those serving in the U.S. military have performed during their time in the military. Many of those sacrifices — or even recognition of service — have gone unsung over the years, an overlooking that demands correction. Bloggers and some news outlets lifted up these service members and their little-known stories, reminded readers of the wars that are being fought, and asked that we remember the sacrifices that are being made daily.

1,000th GI Killed in Afghan War was on 2nd Tour | The Associated Press

The 1,000th American serviceman killed in Afghanistan was born on the Fourth of July. He died several days before Americans honor fallen troops on Memorial Day.

Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht was killed Thursday when he stepped on a land mine in Helmand province that ripped off his right arm. It was the 24-year-old Texan’s second deployment overseas.

John Lundberg: Poems for Memorial Day | The Huffington Post

James Lenihan fought in Europe during World War II as a sergeant in the 104th Infantry Division. His son remembered him as a “tough customer” who didn’t seem haunted by the war. So he was surprised when, sorting through his father’s basement, he found a poem about his father’s struggle to cope with killing a German soldier. He’d never known him to write any others.

The Defense Centers of Excellence, which helps veterans and their families recover from psychological health/traumatic brain injuries, published the poem, hoping it would help veterans and their families in their healing process.

Sharing the Burden of War | The Brookings Institution

While my squadron and I had been busy battling the Taliban and Al Qaeda, after all, Wall Street apparently had been on a drunken bender of sub-prime loans and mortgage derivatives that nearly catapulted the nation into a second Great Depression. Meanwhile, the bills for the war—not insignificant by any measure—were simply being charged to our children. Where was the shared sacrifice? Was the nation’s role in the war only to give me a 10 percent discount at Home Depot—and an obligatory pat on the head?

This relationship between the military and the nation, and especially the confusion and misunderstanding on both sides, is an important issue that Sherman discusses extensively. For my part, I have long felt that the inflated words used to describe servicemembers—from “hero” to “great American”—almost always miss their target. Hyperbole sacrifices credibility. But there is still ample common ground on which to begin a more productive conversation.

Looking Back and Ahead at Gay Rights |

Memorial Day always reminds me of three things. The first, and most obvious, is the members of our armed services who have died in defense of our country. This year, with talk of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal much in the news, I am thinking more than ever of the gay and lesbian servicemembers who have died, and their loved ones who have not been notified, recognized, allowed to dispose of the remains, or given survivors’ benefits like the spouses of straight servicemembers. Give an extra salute for these unknown soldiers at the parade.

One Holiday, Two Countries | Talking Points Memo

This holiday should be a solemn day of remembrance for the more than one million American service members of all generations who have given their lives in defense of our country, including the 5,454 men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a humbling occasion to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. But unfortunately, the significance of the day is often lost under the coolers and beach blankets in the trunk of the car.

Women in Uniform | Feministe

I don’t know why, but I’m a sucker for slideshows. Add a feminist theme, and I’m all over it. So I really enjoyed stumbling upon this collection of images of women in the military, starting way back with the American Revolution.

A Love Letter to a G.I. | Box Turtle Bulletin

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) kicked off its “Stories From the Frontline” series as part of a campaign specifically targeted toward adding the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Authorization Bill, which the SLDN saw as the best opportunity to repeal the ban on gays in the military. With yesterday’s votes in the Senate Armed Services Committee and in the full House of Representatives, that strategy has come to fruition.

And so it is fitting that on the day before Memorial Day weekend, the SLDN’s final letter is in the form of a love letter written during World War II, on the occasion of their anniversary. The letter was originally published in the September 1961 issue of ONE Magazine.

10 Things We Must Remember on Memorial Day |

Yale historian David Blight, Memorial Day (first called Decoration Day), the U.S. holiday commemorating fallen soldiers, got its start at the end of the Civil War. In 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina former African-American slaves exhumed Union soldiers from a mass grave on the site of Charleston’s exclusive racetrack and buried them in individual graves, a ten-day project that ended in a day of celebration of the nation, peace, and freedom in which thousands of Charleston’s black families gathered to decorate graves, pray, play games, and picnic. 135 years after the end of our Civil War, our nation is engaged in near civil wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which we had a part in starting and no plans for ending.

“We don’t do body counts,”General Tommy Franks, commander of the U.S. invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, famously remarked, when asked about Iraqi civilian casualties. We do do body counts of our own — though we don’t talk about them much. Thanks to groups like Veterans for Common Sense, Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs data have been publicized, and thanks to projects like Iraq Body Count, we do count them.

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