rocket tracking


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Forgotten

I cannot let Memorial Day pass without commenting on it...even if I am late.  Memorial Day, formerly known as decoration day was originally designed to recognize those soldiers who had died in service to their country.  It has expanded to remember all our dead, but still focus on those who serve in all branches of the military, including the Coast Guard and Merchant Marine which are often left out of the American corporate conscience when listing the branches.

Sometimes I don't like the fact that it was switched from May 30 to the last Monday in May.  Why? Because it becomes a day for picnics, parties and family get togethers rather than a day of remembrance.

Now mind you, this year I didn't get to any parades or services.  I was just too worn out from my daughter's graduation party on Saturday.  Yes, I'm ashamed to admit it, but there you are.

I often think of the "forgotten" on  Memorial day.  Those people who served in Korea which seems to have been overlooked.  When we think of the show "M.A.S.H." most people think of it as being Vietnam...but it wasn't.  It was the Korean Conflict...a war which killed, maimed and did everything else which happens in war but wasn't dignified with the label and was overshadowed by what came later.

Will Gulf I be the same? Overshadowed by our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan?

I have also noticed that people are also taking Memorial day as a time to recognized or acknowledge our veterans.  Does that take away from those who gave the supreme sacrifice?

I also consider those who suffer from wounds which are not visible and to families who suffer from constant re-deployment of their loved ones. These two photos were taken in the old cemetery at the Ridges, a decommissioned state psychiatric facility in Athens, Ohio.  In the 19th century, many psych patients at the newly constructed facilities were Civil War Veterans.  Like our soldiers in Iraqi and Afghanistan, they were farm boys, students, regular folk who had never seen the horrors of war.  

Things were made more difficult during the Civil War because a lot of new armaments had been developed which wrecked havoc on the soldiers.  Gattling Guns and other new guns rained down terror and death.  Yet, much of the fighting was "old school"  up close and personal with bayonettes and muzzle loaders.  The war previous to the Civil War was the Mexican American War, 1846-1848, which, although it used volunteers, was heavily fought with our standing army and involved much smaller forces than in the Civil War. 

Many Civil War Soldiers came out of the war missing limbs, many more suffered from what we now call PTSD, but then had no diagnosis and no treatment, save being institutionalized.  Many others couldn't return home for whatever reason and continued to walk the roads going from one place to another.

Here, you see their graves, marked with a number and a flag.   In some cases, families claimed the bodies.  In others, they never knew what happened to their beloved soldier.  Sometimes, a stone with the persons name was erected later, but this was rare. 

So, lets not forget.  I'm glad that someone still takes the time to place American flags on the Civil War Soldiers (G,A.R. stands for the Grand Army of the Republic--the north's side).  But I still wonder about out current men and women who still "see the elephant" in places far away and come back broken in mind as well as body.  May we remember them and treat them with the care and consideration that so many have not been afforded in the past.

No comments: