Memorial Day 2019: Remembering All of Ours and All the Days when Being American was Everything

Memorial Day 2019: Remembering All of Ours and All the Days when Being American was Everything.

May 27, 2019

By MG Paul E. Vallely, US Army Ret.

We pause this day in America to remember our fallen heroes, the men and women who answered the call of freedom and paid the ultimate sacrifice. We lament our losses, the losses of our friends, the losses from our communities and our nation as a whole – we bow our heads in silent sorrow, but our hearts are also filled with pride for their service to each and every American – to the longevity of our nation and way of life.

Let us remember and thank them for the nights they slept freezing in a tent, or sweating in the desert, for the lonely days they spent fighting boredom and missing loved ones, for the hours they spent sick in pain from battle and without someone holding their hand other than their fellow soldiers, for the moments of sheer fright in the heat of battle, for the wounds suffered fighting evil, for the endless days in hospitals undergoing painful surgeries, for the precious occasions missed at home with family and friends.

For all of these sacrifices, we need to thank them on behalf of millions of Americans who are so grateful. We truly appreciate their dedication to duty, living up to their oaths, honoring those who came before them, and defending our Constitution.

I wish a special thank you to all the families and friends as well. I want to thank the parents who raised them, stood by them, and made them honorable men and woman. Most especially, we thank the wives, husbands, and loved ones who stood by them and supported them with their love as well.

May their legacy be honored for generations to come, may the tears shed over their coffins fertilize the fields of patriotism in our nation. The new generations to come must be built on strength, duty, honor and country, willing and able to follow in their Warrior footsteps when duty calls to defend America. May their blood not have been shed in vain. May we prove worthy of their sacrifice.

You who have served and are serving as our brave ones, our heroes, are our national treasures. You are the pride of our nation, our strength and our foundation.

Thanks to you, millions have been freed around the world. Those who criticize our country, burn our precious flag, and speak ill of you, are able to do so because their freedom is built upon your blood and your sacrifice.

Our son speaks from his resting place. He speaks to me each day from his hallowed space with beautiful skies and mountains majestic white with snow. God bless his soul and the others and I thank him for his wonderful contribution to our life.

He lives forever in our hearts. I fear no evil when I walk with Warriors. We walk in the valley of the shadow of death, but we fear no evil. We are the Masters of our Destiny and the Captains of our souls.

You are the wind beneath my wings, and I will fly with you forever in eternity.

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day began as a tradition of decorating the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers with flags and flowers to show the respect of a grateful nation for their service and sacrifice. This tradition continues today, and our nation now sets aside the last Monday in May to celebrate the courage of the men and women who have worn America’s colors in war and in peace.

I recall as a young man, remembering on Memorial Day that in the morning there was a parade down Main Street, led by a color guard, the high school band, and ranks of veterans from World War I, World War II, and the war of the moment, Korea.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars sold red poppies to raise funds for the disabled. Politicians made speeches and citizens prayed in public.

It was a solemn annual event that taught us reverence for those who served and sacrificed for our country.

It is no longer so in many places in America, especially in our large urban areas.

Sadly, it is now best known to all too many as the beginning of summer, a day for a barbecue, not a day of remembrance.

Begun as a local observance in the aftermath of the Civil War, the first national commemoration took place on May 30, 1868, at the direction of General John A. Logan, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Though his “General Order No. 11” specified “strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion” – meaning only Union soldiers – those who tended the burial sites at Arlington, VA, Gettysburg, PA, and Vicksburg, MS, decided on their own to decorate the graves of both Union and Confederate war dead.

For five decades the holiday remained essentially unchanged. But in 1919, as the bodies of young Americans were being returned to the U.S. from the battlefields of World War I, May 30th became a truly national event. It persisted as such until 1971, during the Vietnam War – the war America wanted to forget – when the Uniform Holiday Act passed by Congress went into effect, and turned Memorial Day into a “three-day weekend.”

Since then, it’s become an occasion for appliance, mattress, and auto sales, a day for picnics, barbecues, and auto races. Thankfully, there are some places besides Arlington National Cemetery, places like Bigfork, Montana, where Memorial Day is still observed as a time to honor America’s war dead.

This Memorial Day we remember those who have served our nation in the past and those who currently serve America today. Although Memorial Day comes only once a year, we must make sure that our service members know how grateful we are every day. This day recognizes the sacrifices made by our courageous men and women who have fallen in defense of our nation’s liberty.

This Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember and honor America’s fallen and our current day warriors who are advancing freedom’s cause and defending us in far away lands, always at the ready.

WE salute you one and all.  WE bow before you in respect and humility. May God bless you and God bless America – the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

 

 

 

 

NORAD tracking Santa for children around the world

 

 

NORAD tracking Santa for children around the world

By Dan Elliott, Associated Press

Update:  COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Volunteers dressed in Christmas hats and military uniforms are taking calls from children around the world who want to know when Santa will be coming.

NORAD Tracks Santa, based at Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base, says it uses infrared sensors from Rudolph’s nose to determine Santa’s location Monday and let callers know when they need to get to bed.

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques tweeted that he is helping track Santa from the International Space Station.

Related: Follow Santa on NORAD’s tracker

The military says the program isn’t affected by the U.S. government shutdown since it is run by volunteers and funded by a previously approved defense budget.

The holiday tradition, now in its 63rd year, began after a child mistakenly called a Colorado command that monitored for signs of a nuclear attack, asking to speak to Santa.

The military says the NORAD Tracks Santa won’t be affected by the government shutdown because it is run by volunteers Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado and is funded by the Department of Defense’s budget that was approved earlier this year.

Now in its 63rd year, the Santa tracker became a Christmas Eve tradition after a mistaken phone call to the Continental Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1955. CONAD, as it was known, had the serious job of monitoring a far-flung radar network for any sign of a nuclear attack on the United States.

When Col. Harry Shoup picked up the phone that day, he found himself talking not to a military general, but to a child who wanted to speak to Santa Claus. A Colorado Springs newspaper had run an ad inviting kids to call Santa but mistakenly listed the hotline number.

Shoup figured out what had happened and played along. The tradition has since mushroomed into an elaborate operation that attracts tens of thousands of calls every year.

“They’re all really sweet, small voices,” said Madison Hill, a volunteer who helped answer the phones in two previous years.

“I had a little girl tell me good night instead of goodbye,” she said. “It’s really sweet.”

The North American Aerospace Defense Command — a joint U.S.-Canadian operation based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that protects the skies over both countries — has taken over the Santa tracker since the tradition started. The military command center embraced and expanded the Santa-tracking mission and has been rewarded with a bounty of goodwill and good publicity.

Last year, NORAD Tracks Santa drew 126,000 phone calls, 18 million website hits, 1.8 million followers on Facebook and 179,000 more on Twitter.

It takes 160 phones to handle the calls that pour in. New volunteers get a playbook that briefs them on the questions kids might ask. Big screens on the walls show a Santa icon making blistering progress around the globe. U.S. and Canadian officers do live TV interviews from the phone rooms.

“It really gets you into the Christmas spirit,” said Hill, a student at Mississippi State University who got involved through Air Force family members stationed in Colorado Springs.

“There are Christmas carols in the background, everyone’s very friendly, happy to be there,” she said.

One year, she took a call from a boy who began reading a very long Christmas list. “I remember having to cut him off after the 10th present or so,” she said, explaining to him that she had to take calls from other children.

A girl told Hill she wanted to warn Santa not to bump into a bell hanging on her door. “I think she wanted Santa to be quiet and not wake her up,” Hill said.

Sometimes the volunteers have to handle the unexpected. In 2012, a child from Newtown, Connecticut, asked if Santa could bring extra toys for families who lost children in the mass shooting that year at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“If I can get ahold of him, I’ll try to get the message to him,” replied the volunteer, Sara Berghoff.

NORAD’s commander, Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, will also take a turn answering the phones Monday.

“This is my first NORAD Tracks Santa,” said O’Shaughnessy, who took command in May. “I’m really excited.”

O’Shaughnessy was even asked about the program during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in April to confirm him as NORAD chief.

“I assume this committee can count on your commitment to continue that venerable tradition,” Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton deadpanned.

“Yes sir, especially since my son Sam would want to see that as well,” O’Shaughnessy replied.

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ARMY-NAVY GAME’S STUNNING NATIONAL ANTHEM RENDITION PUTS EVERY KNEELING NFL PLAYER TO SHAME

 

 

ARMY-NAVY GAME’S STUNNING NATIONAL ANTHEM RENDITION PUTS EVERY KNEELING NFL PLAYER TO SHAME

By Benny Johnson

 

President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis were on hand to start off the annual Army vs. Navy game.

Army and Navy met again Saturday afternoon in the neutral site of Philadelphia to play a football game between the two oldest branches of the armed forces. This year marks the 119th time the two teams have met. A U.S. president is occasionally on hand for the national anthem and coin toss.

President Trump took the field Saturday in Philadelphia before an enormous crowd in Lincoln Financial Field. The audience was composed of Midshipmen of the Navy, West Point cadets and other assembled active duty and military veterans.

The game also featured a prayer and tribute to the late Navy veteran, former President George H.W. Bush. (RELATED: Here’s A Look Back At George H.W. Bush’s Life In Pictures)

The crowd roared as Trump took the field. Before the game, the student choirs of both military academies  join together to sing the national anthem. You could hear a pin drop during the rendition.

Article

Great Falls Veterans and Central Catholic Celebrate Thanksgiving!

By Katie Tercek

GREAT FALLS- Veterans got a little head start this afternoon, November 10th on a nice home-cooked Thanksgiving meal, thanks to folks helping out over at the Grace Home.

Local groups in our community spent yesterday afternoon at Central Catholic High School preparing all the food you see so these vets could all enjoy a free turkey lunch. There were all the classic Thanksgiving food items on their menu including stuffing, cranberry sauce, and of course pumpkin pie.

“It means a lot to us to be able to serve them and to be a part of making it a special day for them,” said Mike Mettam, a volunteer for the Thanksgiving meal at the Grace Home.

Mike said this isn’t the only opportunity vets have to enjoy a nice home cooked meal. In fact, the Vet Center does a potluck every month. Although this was their first Thanksgiving type luncheon, they are hoping to keep it at a tradition for years to come.

Article

Happy Thanksgiving 2018!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our Veterans and all Americans that support their sacrifice and service in keeping us free!

By: George Washington, President of The United States of America

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3rd day of October, A.D. 1789.