Sunday, May 27, 2018

Happy (?) Memorial Day

We have seen the videos of military caskets being taken off a plane here in the States, met by the young widow and the soldier's family. We have wept along with them. Or stood at attention.

But have you ever wondered how the ceremony was handled at the other end of the final flight? Often the KIA would be the only 'cargo' on the plane. Here is how he got there (according to my recollections).

At the other end of his final trip home, troops gathered and formed up to march nation by nation (my base housed several Coalition nations) across the tarmac to the open back of the plane - in eight ranks, four facing the other four with enough space in between them for the flag-draped casket to be carried to the empty waiting plane. 

Troops were then called to Parade Rest (someone, earlier, had even aligned the propellers to each other so one blade of each prop was facing upwards) and then Attention as the soldier is carried to the plane by his Battle Buddies. On the tarmac, a very brief but solemn ceremony and service are held by the chaplain. If it is a ceremony for a soldier from another country, the service may be quite long but the main US service is held in the base chapel.

Troops are strongly encouraged to attend as many Ramp Ceremonies as they can to pay their respects. Some of my female troops had an emotionally difficult time and would stand in a rear rank to shield their feelings. And Special Forces ceremonies were often in the middle of the night (US fatalities had to be out of theater within 72 hours.)

And now you know how carefully the soldier is treated at the other end of his final journey.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

In Flanders Fields. . . .

What are you doing on Monday? Will you take a moment out of your holiday to appreciate those who died so that you could have a holiday? Did you know that many American Legion posts have brief memorial services at local cemeteries?

Do you know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day?

Memorial Day is when we remember those who died in service to our country while on Veteran’s Day (in November) we thank all those who have served or are serving in our military – those who are still alive and those who have passed on.

Fly your flag. If you don’t have one, now is a great time to get one.

Did you know that Friday was Poppy Day? Do you know the significance of poppies and Memorial Day? You surely remember the short poem, “In Flanders Fields,” listen to it here (read by an actor), written in 1915 by a Canadian poet-physician who was not satisfied with it so he threw it away. Fortunately it was retrieved and published after first being rejected. The poet was honored on a Canadian stamp. You can read the short poem here in Wikipedia.