On behalf of myself and my fellow veterans, I want to say how appreciative we are that our service is recognized favorably. There have been times in our nation’s history when this was not the case as a general rule. It is a good environment to be a veteran nowadays.
On Memorial Day weekend, everyone is thanking veterans…commercials on TV thank veterans…church services thank veterans.
Most veterans just smile and say thank you but…
…and I don’t mean any disrespect…
…this day is not about us. We have Veterans Day.
It’s not for this guy to the left…though that little shiny piece of metal on that blue ribbon is, more often than not, bestowed posthumously. Most of the recipients of this medal, this day IS for them. The Medal of Honor is our nation’s highest medal for valor. When Sgt. Meyer walks in, Generals salute him first. But Memorial Day is not for him and he will tell you that.
This day is not for this guy to the right either. And this Marine will probably tell you that too. That hard-charger sacrificed his legs. That, thankfully, was not required of me. There are Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Guardsmen who have lost parts of their bodies that the rest of us take for granted. Others have wounds that can’t be seen. Memorial Day is not about them either.
We all have one thing in common. We all signed a check. This check was payable to the people of the United States of America. What was the value of that check? That line was left blank.
We wrote that check to be valued at up to and including our lives. Most veterans have theirs cashed for four years time away from home and family. Make no mistake though, they ARE veterans. They wrote the same check that everyone else did. They wrote it with complete uncertainty of what they were going to end up paying. Writing that check and honoring your commitment is what makes you a veteran.
Well, if Memorial Day isn’t for us, who is it for?
Veterans Day is for Cpl. Pack.
I know what you are probably thinking. “Who is Cpl. Pack?” If you are a Marine from 1st Bn., 12th Mar. during the Gulf War, you know who he is. If not, you probably don’t. His name was not mentioned by a president for special recognition…there probably is not a street named after him. But he IS who Memorial Day is for.
The picture to the right is one taken in the Spring of 1991. That piece of equipment used to be a fire-finder radar. I say used to be because, if you look closely, it is half melted. That is what happens when it is hit by an American anti-radar weapon. It isn’t blown up…it is melted. Melted parts can’t be put back together. That was Cpl. Pack’s duty post. He was with it when it got hit.
Cpl. Pack was a Sergeant at the time and died never knowing it. If memory serves, his promotion warrant had already been mailed to him by Headquarters Marine Corps. He never got to put is own Sergeant’s chevrons on his utilities. He never heard anyone call him ‘Sgt. Pack’.
He never saw our victorious accomplishment of our mission in Kuwait. He never got the chance to have a beer with the great folks in Bangor, Maine. He never got handed a beer through the bus window on the way back from Honolulu International to MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
He never got to go home to Phoenix and hug his momma again.
Sgt. Pack is who this day is for. So, when you are eating your barbecue and drinking your beer, remember Sgt. Pack. I am not saying that having a good time on Memorial Day is wrong. That’s what he would be doing. But remember what Memorial Day is.
If ya want, feel free to use the comments section as a sort of ‘roll call’. Let’s do some name droppin’. Who do you know that has paid the ultimate price for freedom?
Stay safe and keep a round in the chamber…