May 29, 2023-His name was Richard Daniel Devine. He died in combat, in Kontum, VietNam, on January 10, 1968.
His name was Stanley Joseph Egan. He died in combat, in Hua Nghia, VietNam, on November 23, 1969.
When we were children, every year, just before school let out for the summer, we gathered in the yard of Felton School, and recited a poem that began “Tomorrow is Memorial Day. The soldiers will be marching, with banners waving high.” The day was officially called Decoration Day, as we honoured those who had died, after having served in the military and had been decorated for their efforts. Another meaning of the day came from the practice of decorating graves of departed loved ones with flowers and other tokens of remembrance.
In 1968, the last Monday in May was designated Memorial Day. The actual practice of this three-day weekend began in 1971, along with Presidents’ Day (third Monday in February) and Columbus Day (second Monday in October, and now mainly known as Indigenous Peoples Day). The three days have been observed as Federal holidays since then. They were joined in that status by Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (third Monday in January),in 1986 and by Juneteenth ( June 19), the date of the last documented informing of American slaves that they had been emancipated (Texas, 1865), in 2021. Other Federal holidays of long standing, are New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
There were a myriad observances of Memorial Day, across the United States, and in some other nations which have been allied with the United States in various conflicts, today-as there will be on the traditional Decoration/Memorial/Remembrance Day, of May 30. The men mentioned at the beginning of this post, and over a million people like them, are the decorated ones, the soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Merchant Mariners and a fair number of civilian ancillaries, who gave their lives, this nation and other countries around the world, might continue to know the reality of freedom.
I knew Stan Egan, and on the day he passed on I chose to spend Thanksgiving in fasting and prayer. It just made no sense that a vibrant, athletic, engaging and confidant young man should have been blown to bits, as it were. It never has-and never will. Until the quest for dominance, for ownership of land, for subjugation of others is given up, the nonsensical will remain commonplace.
In honour of the fallen, across the globe, I give you this rendition of Il Silenzio (The Silence), by Dutch trumpeter Melissa Venema, who first played the tune at the age of 13, in Maastricht, NL. She is now 28, and regularly offers the melody in concert.