Flowers…Where Have They All Gone?

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,…Isaiah 40:6b-8a

ARLINGTON, VA – MAY 21: Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. “Flags-In” has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army’s official ceremonial unit in 1948.

September 18, 1960

My father’s life was taken by Pancreatic Cancer…in the prime of his life, 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters(12, 10, 7).  The Navy was so special for and to him.  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the post-war Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence then and now connected with radiation poisoning.

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January 30, 2013

Mama raised us girls and we cared for her in her old age.  Mama died of cancer coupled with vascular dementia and diabetes.  She was 98, never remarried.  Daddy was her true love.

We buried her ashes in Arlington National Cemetery in the same grave with the remains of her beloved Ralph after 53 years…an honor and a privilege to have our parents buried on such hallowed grounds as these.

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I was 2 months old. And I was their first of three, all girls. Do you think these parents were happy?

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June 7, 2018

My husband, Kenneth, served in the U. S. Army 1967-1970 in the 101st Airborne, a Combat Infantryman in Vietnam…1968-69.  Kenneth came home safely. January 18, 2018, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It is known to be associated with Agent Orange, a chemical used to defoliate the jungles in Vietnam during the war. We celebrated our 25th anniversary on May 22, 2018, a few weeks before he left this earthly sphere. He is with Jesus now so I will see him there one day. But I miss him so now.

Heroes!  These parents of mine, my husband, and ALL the others who have fought to protect this nation over many wars and many years. They each have a story, yet so many stories are quieted by death.  War is a terrible thing.  The gain is often so small.  The loss is so huge.

We remember…in many ways…flags, wreaths, flowers, small tokens, a poem, a song, photos, music, verbal stories. 

When will we ever learn?  Oh, when will we ever learn?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?  by Peter Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?  Long time passing.

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The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:5-8

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LORD, I pray for the many families who have lost a loved one to war. I lift all of our hearts up to You, that You will comfort us, holding our hearts in Your soothing hands, our bodies and beings in Your arms of comfort all the days of our lives. Oh, God, I miss these three from my life so very much, Father.

I pray Your care for the many wounded soldiers who were injured as they served this country. Please also care for those who take care of them. God, war seems to be the way of this world, but I do not like it. In fact, I hate war. I hate hate. God, You call us to love one another. Yet our disobedience to You, our sinful nature, makes us hate, distrust, dislike, be filled with anger, and on and on. I am so sorry. I also know You have forgiven me. I thank You and praise You for Your mercy and Your grace upon my life. I ask Your mercy upon those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I pray for each one to come to know Your salvation, saving grace that they will seek love rather than any other worldly way. Oh, God, I pray for Your peace upon this earth and soon. I hate hate, Father. Through these tears, I call upon You to please guide us to stop all of this AWFUL! I cannot stand it. I truly cannot. This world is so filled with AWFUL! So filled that I can almost not see past it. YET, You give me eyes to see You and a heart softened by Your loving heart. You give me Your love, Your beauty, Your grace, and Your mercy. You give me flowers and sunshine in a very dark world. Thank You, thank You, my Heavenly Father.

I continue praying Colossians 3:12-17: May I put on then, as God’s chosen one, holy and beloved, compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if I have a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven me, so I also must forgive.  And above all these I will put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.   And let the peace of Christ rule in my heart, to which indeed I  was called in one body. And may I be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in me richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in my heart to God.  And whatever I do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:12-17)

Thank You for my parents who dearly loved me. Thank You for Kenneth who loved me like no other. He shared Christ with me, leading me to Your salvation. He loved me with the love that could only come from You. I am ever grateful, Lord. I know through this dark world, You are my Protector, my Provider, my Comforter, my Refuge, my Lord. I see the flowers even where there are graves. I know You created each human being who walked this earth… and those who walk today…prior to their grave. And I know You create beautiful flowers. Thank You. May I see, hear, and feel clearly, Lord. In the Powerful and Saving Name of Your Son, Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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Caisson @ Arlington National Cemetery (Photo Courtesy: HBO, http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/section-60-arlington-national-cemetery/index.html)

3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) placing flags for Memorial Day in Arlington National Cemetery: (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Words to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone? by Peter Seeger

Old graveyard with purple flowers @ Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/539587599083291924/

The other photos are from my personal collection, taken by me or a friend

Memorial Day – 2020

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.” Per the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Honoring those who have died in service to the United States of America is a bittersweet moment for me. I desire to honor those men and women who have placed their lives on the line for me and the country I call home.

I have two dear men, in particular, who fit that category…my Daddy and my husband, Kenneth. Both of these men died from war-inflicted wounds of contamination: my father, Ralph D, Ross – Post WWII Manhattan Project radiation, Kenneth – Agent Orange/Vietnam War. The two most special men in my life have left their earthly home….gone from my earthly life. Yet, both are with me in my heart. I loved them both dearly.

Kenneth C. Gill
US Army 101st Airborne Infantry
Served 1967 – 1970
Vietnam 4/1968 – 4/1969
born – Salem, IL 1947 – died – Lufkin, TX 2018

June 7, 2018: He served in the Vietnam War 1968-1969 with the US Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He returned to the states and completed his service with the 82nd Airborne in North Carolina. He was exposed to Agent Orange throughout that year marching through rice paddies and areas that once had been wooded areas, defoliated with AO.

Kenneth in Mason, Texas with one of his favorite characters from a book!
The author of “Old Yeller,” Fred Gipson, was from Mason.
The city library has a statue of the dog and the boy Travis.
Inside the library is a mini-museum featuring Fred Gipson.

In January, 2018, we found out he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which is one of the cancers connected with Agent Orange. We believe he had had it for some time due to symptoms we better understood after the fact.

Kenneth was a wonderful husband of 25 years. I was truly blessed. Thank You, Lord. As I walk these days without Kenneth, I still am filled with love for this man whom You loaned to me. I am grateful, Lord, every day. You are the One I walk with today.

Ralph D Ross
US Navy Physician
World War II – Pacific
1942 – 1945, then continuing on til his death in the US Navy
born – Sterling, KS 1913 – died – Bethesda, MD 1960

September 18, 1960: My father’s life vanished in his prime – 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters (12, 10, 7). The Navy was so special to him, so much so that he did not intend to retire at the 20-year mark!  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the post-WWII Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence then. It can be connected with radiation poisoning. Daddy was the best. I still miss him so!

My parents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. An honor, to say the least! (The photo above was taken on a Memorial Day weekend, as told by the flag. I had a friend of a blogging friend take it while she was there. Thanks.)

Mama became a Gold Star Widow; we became Gold Star children. “They are the Gold Star children, war’s innocent victims, and their pain shimmers across the years pure and undimmed. They pass through life with an empty room in their hearts where a father was supposed to live and laugh and love.  All their lives they listen for the footstep that will never fall, and long to know what might have been.”  **

Eleanor Malcotte Ross
born – Chicago, IL 1914 – died – Portland, TX 2013

January 30, 2013: My mother was an unsung war hero, too, although she did not die from war-related causes!  Not only was she a Navy officer’s wife, but worked during the war for the Naval Supply Depot, keeping the Navy-at-war in food and other supplies. She was a special woman! Lots of fun too!

Buried with Daddy at Arlington National Cemetery.

Father, thank You for these very special people in my life. They have meant so much to me over the span of my lifetime. I am so grateful for the love I have known from each one of them. They loved me, each in their own special way. I honor the service they offered to this country. Thank You for bringing Daddy and Kenneth home from wars so that Daddy could be my father and Kenneth could be my husband. I am sorry they each died from contamination of war-related agents. I am so sorry for that…for my loss as well. I also honor the many more who died from their service to the United States of America. Please protect those many more service men and women who continue to be in harm’s way around the world, Lord. Hold those who have served but are dealing with the effects of war. Some are wanting to get ‘back-to-normal,’ others are dealing with homelessness, and others are medically or psychologically traumatized. Please care for them all, Father God. I pray all in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Photograph: Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day, Flags In @ https://s.abcnews.com/images/US/160520_abc_vod_orig_memorialday_presidents_mix_16x9_992.jpg

All other photographs are my own. Please ask permission to use.

** Quoted in We Were Soldiers Once…and Young by Lt. General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway

Memorial Day 2019

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.” Per the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Honoring those who have died in service to the United States of America is a bittersweet moment for me. I desire to honor those men and women who have placed their lives on the line for me and the country I call home. I also have two men, in particular, who fit that category now. Once I had only my Daddy. Now, this year, I also honor my husband, Kenneth. Both of these men died from war-inflicted wounds of contamination…radiation – my father, Agent Orange – Kenneth. The two most special men in my life have left their earthly home….gone from my earthly life. Yet, both are with me in my heart. I loved them both dearly. I know I will see Kenneth in Heaven and I pray so for my Daddy.

Kenneth C. Gill
US Army 101st Airborne Infantry
Served 1967 – 1970
Vietnam 4/1968 – 4/1969
born – Salem, IL 1947 – died – Lufkin, TX 2018

June 7, 2018: This is the first Memorial Day without Kenneth. He was close to death last May. He died June 7th. He served in the Vietnam War 1968-1969 with the US Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He returned to the states and completed his service with the 82nd Airborne in North Carolina. He was exposed to Agent Orange throughout that year marching through rice paddies and areas that once had been wooded areas, since defoliated with AO.

Kenneth in Mason, Texas with one of his favorite characters from a book!
The author of “Old Yeller,” Fred Gipson, was from Mason.
The city library has a statue of the dog and the boy Travis.
Inside the library is a mini-museum featuring Fred Gipson.

In January, 2018, we found out he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which is one of the cancers connected with Agent Orange. We believe he had had it for some time due to symptoms we better understood after the fact.

Kenneth was a wonderful husband of 25 years. I was truly blessed. God provided such a blessing to my life. Thank You, Lord. As I walk these days without Kenneth, I still am filled with love for this man whom You loaned to me. I am grateful, Lord, every day. You are the One I walk with today.

Ralph D Ross
US Navy Physician
World War II – Pacific
1942 – 1945, then continuing on til his death in the US Navy
born – Sterling, KS 1913 – died – Bethesda, MD 1960

September 18, 1960: My father’s life vanished in his prime – 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters (12, 10, 7). The Navy was so special to him, so much so that he did not intend to retire at the 20-year mark!  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the after-war Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence then and often, now. It is connected with radiation poisoning. PLUS…he was a great Daddy! I still miss him!

My parents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. An honor, to say the least! (This was taken on a Memorial Day weekend as you can see by the flag. I had a friend of a blogging friend take it while she was there. Thanks.)

Mama became a Gold Star Widow; we became Gold Star children. “They are the Gold Star children, war’s innocent victims, and their pain shimmers across the years pure and undimmed. They pass through life with an empty room in their hearts where a father was supposed to live and laugh and love.  All their lives they listen for the footstep that will never fall, and long to know what might have been.”  **

Eleanor Malcotte Ross
born – Chicago, IL 1914 – died – Portland, TX 2013

January 30, 2013: My mother was an unsung war hero, too, although she did not die from war-related causes!  Not only was she a Navy officer’s wife, but worked during the war for the Naval Supply Depot, keeping the Navy-at-war in food and other supplies. She was a fine and fun mother too!

Buried with Daddy at Arlington National Cemetery.

Father, thank You for these very special people in my life. They have meant so much to me over the span of my lifetime. I am so grateful for the love I have known from each one of them. They loved me each in their own special way. I honor the service they offered to this country. Thank You for bringing Daddy and Kenneth home from wars so that Daddy could be my father and Kenneth could be my husband. Thank You. I am sorry they each died from contamination of war-related agents. I am so sorry for that…for my lose as well. I also honor the many more who died from their service to the United States of America. Please protect those many more service men and women who continue to be in harm’s way around the world, Lord. Hold those who have served but are dealing with the effects of war. Some are wanting to get ‘back-to-normal,’ others are dealing with homelessness, and others are medically or psychologically traumatized. Please care for them all, Father God. I pray all in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Photograph: Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day, Flags In @ https://s.abcnews.com/images/US/160520_abc_vod_orig_memorialday_presidents_mix_16x9_992.jpg

All other photographs are my own. Please ask permission to use.

** Quoted in We Were Soldiers Once…and Young by Lt. General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway

Memorial Day — 2016

Memorial Day carries so much emotion for me.

My father served in World War II as a Navy doctor in the Pacific.   He continued his service to this country, not only as a physician, but as a Radiological Safety Officer in the post-war Manhattan Project where he was exposed a number of times to radiation in 1946/Operation Crossroads at Bikini Island and in 1951/Operation Greenhouse at Eniwetok Island.  When he was 46 years old, he died of Pancreatic cancer, a cancer known to stem from radiation exposure.  I was 12.  My sisters were 10 and 7.  We lost our father.  He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  I am proud of my father.  Our mother raised us alone with grief on her heart.  In 2013, she passed away. We had the honor of burying her with Daddy at Arlington National Cemetery.

photo 1

My husband served in the Army, 101st Airborne, Combat Infantry Soldier, in the Viet Nam War.  We, as a country, did not treat the soldiers of that war well upon their return.  I am grateful that there is respect shown for them now, but we should have acknowledged all that they did for us back then.  I am sorry to all of you Viet Nam veterans who might be reading this.  Instead of recognizing you as a soldier who was obeying orders, we looked to the overall picture of the war that seemed fruitless and was killing so many of you.  May I apologize for our mistakes and the dishonor we showed you.  I am so sorry. 

I love you, Kenneth, and respect you so very much…for all you did then and for the husband you are to me now.  I praise God for you. 

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Memorial Day is:

  • a day (and there ought to be 364 more days a year for this) to remember the many men and women who have worn a uniform of the United States Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard over this country’s history.
  • a day to remember why they wore those uniforms — to protect the United States of America and her citizens.
  • a day to remember that many have died in the face of an enemy during battle, protecting the people and the freedoms that come with living in this country.  Their blood was shed as they obeyed their commanding officers.
  • a day to remember that there are many, this very day, who are wearing one of these uniforms and are in harm’s way…this very day!  

Flickr_-_The_U.S._Army_-_Arlington_National_Cemetery

Look at the vast number of graves just in this one scene at Arlington.   On Arlington National Cemetery’s website, words there cause me to reflect: “Laying our Nation’s veterans and their eligible family members to rest with honor and respect, while treating their loved ones with dignity and compassion, is the cornerstone of Arlington National Cemetery’s mission.”
Whether we agree with or against things that are happening in this country, by this country, this is our country.  May we stand proud of the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, our National Anthem.  As we stand with our hand over our heart, may we be proud of these men and women in uniform for they are standing in obedience to the orders they receive from their commanders.  They are sent off to battle, some of which we may agree with with and some we may not.  They are doing in the name of the United States of America.

Father, we know that You are in control of this whole world.  You know what is happening right here in the USA.  Father, we pray that Your protection be around these soldiers who are fighting in harm’s way.  Please care for each and every one of them.  I thank You for the parents You gave me, for the husband I have today.  I am so very blessed.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.
bwturq sig

Memorial Day – 2015

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Memorial Day can be a gathering of family for a barbeque or for a day at the beach.  It is remembered as a day off from work or a reminder that we will only have a four-day workweek.

But Memorial Day is far more than that:

  • It is a day (and there ought to be 364 more days a year for this) to remember the many men and women who have worn a uniform of the United States Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard over this country’s history.
  • It is a day to remember why they wore those uniforms — to protect the United States of America and her citizens.
  • It is a day to remember that many have died in the face of an enemy during battle, protecting the people and the freedoms that come with living in this country.  Their blood was shed as they obeyed their commanding officers.
  • It is a day to remember that there are many, this very day, who are wearing one of these uniforms and are in harm’s way…this very day!  

May we stand proud for the United States of America whether we believe in all that is going on in the country today or not.  This is our country.  We must stand proud of the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, our National Anthem.  As we stand with our hand over our heart, be proud because these men and women in uniform are standing in obedience to the orders they receive from their commanders.  They are doing this for us, in our name, for we are citizens of the USA.

child-saluting-american-flag-by-jeff-turner-respres-on-flickr

You and I are to stand in obedience to God Who is our Commander in Chief, our Stronghold, our Refuge, our Protector.  His Son shed His Blood for us…His red blood…in obedience to His Father Who is our Father.

Father God, may we look to You for all of Your commands, Your will,  for our lives each day.  May we honor those who stand for this country, who die for this country.  Please care for them as they fight or assist in war-torn countries, or work in places that have been ravaged by natural disasters and have been sent to help.  We lift up the many families who have lost loved ones in these many battles this country has been involved in.  We lift up those families who have someone in uniform right now and are fighting, protecting, assisting, or are preparing to go into a place that could be dangerous in one way or another.   Please guard them with your legions of angels.  We pray in the Powerful Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

But this command I gave them: ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’  Jeremiah 7:23

For He will command His angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.  Psalm 91:11


F
lags In

“This is a mission unique to members of the 3d United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), which has the distinction of being the oldest active unit in the United States Army dating back to 1784. The Old Guard is the Army’s ceremonial unit serving as honor guard to the President of the United States, and performing burial services for fallen service members, veterans and their family members at Arlington Cemetery.”  Arlington Cemetery

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Both of my parents are now buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

There is a flag on their grave this very day and I remember.

I am honored to remember.

photo 1

I am married to a Vietnam Veteran and am honored to have my hand in his.

ken in truck

I do not forget.

BW sig dark blue

Photo of Young boy saluting flag: http://365atlanta.com/2010/11/11/286-a-simple-thing-to-do-thank-a-veteran-every-day-not-just-on-veterans-day/

Flags In photo: http://media4.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2015_21/1038161/pc-150522-arlington-flags-mn-0430_f195bba7ed10dc1c882e0c9d58494cc9.nbcnews-ux-1360-900.jpg

In Honor and Respect

Memorial-Day-Arlington-National-Cemetery1

“How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!”  II Samuel 1:25a

A day for remembering … so many fallen soldiers.  Wars fought for freedom, wars fought for other reasons. Some reasons are not understandable in my mind, some are. But, no matter the reason, my heart is heavy for the many who have died in battle, and the many who have died months and years later from battle wounds.  I think of the many who have died from battle scars, physical, emotional, psychological, who suffer with them year after year.  They are remembered today.


The history of Memorial Day may reach back to 1868, when General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic declared May 30 of that year to be “Decoration Day,” for, in his words, “the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”

On that first Decoration Day the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers were covered with flowers at Arlington National Cemetery.   Congressman (soon to be President) James A. Garfield attended along with many others from the Washington, D.C. political arena.  They decorated the graves with flowers… a sign of remembrance and honor, I believe.  In 1971, federal law changed the observance of the holiday to the last Monday in May and extended it to honor all those who died in American wars.  Today, we decorate with a flag at Arlington and other cemeteries, calling it Memorial Day.

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Look at the vast number of graves just in this one scene at Arlington.   On Arlington National Cemetery’s website, words cause me to reflect: “Laying our Nation’s veterans and their eligible family members to rest with honor and respect, while treating their loved ones with dignity and compassion, is the cornerstone of Arlington National Cemetery’s mission.”
My father is buried there.  He died in 1960 after serving in the South Pacific in WWII as a medical doctor, followed by being a Radiological Safety Officer with the Manhattan Project, a doctor, Chief of Medicine at Naval Hospital/Corona, CA, plus many other areas of service with the U.S. Navy.  He was proud to serve.  My Daddy was only 46 years of age when he died…I was only 12.  He was stationed In Washington, DC, at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery when he became ill with pancreatic cancer.  I have always been proud of my father and so very in love with him.  I miss him even after all of these years.  (My Daddy’s grave is down this hill to the left, if my memory serves me correctly.  We will be returning here soon as my mother passed away January 30, 2013 and will be buried with her husband of twenty years, my father.  She never remarried and wanted to be buried with her Ralph.  We will honor her wishes and await a call from Arlington to schedule that date.)
arlington_cemetery_15

So many have fallen to the angers of war.  May we remember them for their bravery, their love of country, even for the fears that encircled them as they fought and dealt with the ravages of  war.  May we remember the ones who returned from Vietnam, are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who need our prayers to recover from the sights and fears, the physical and emotional wounds that they have experienced while serving the USA.
My dear husband, Kenneth, served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division.  He made it home.  I have been blessed to have been given him for my husband and am thankful that he made it home…

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for many did not…
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“The grounds of Arlington National Cemetery honor those who have served our nation by providing a sense of beauty and peace for our guests. The rolling green hills are dotted with trees that are hundreds of years in age and complement the gardens found throughout the 624 acres of the cemetery. This impressive landscape serves as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of every individual laid to rest within the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.”
LORD, protect each soldier who is on foreign soil this very day.  Hold him or her close to Your heart, that they would know Your love and protection.  I pray for Your legions of angels around each one to protect and encourage them.  I ask You to bring them home safely.  I also pray, LORD, for those who serve right here in the USA who protect our country in ways we don’t even know or realize.  They are in harms way too.  Guard the families of our military as they support and love their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, as they pray for them, as they miss their loved ones.  Guide our Commander-in-Chief, the officers, and all of those who assist President Obama in military decision making.  Give them wisdom and assurance that You are the One, the Only One, Who is truly in control.  You are the Strong Tower.  LORD, I ask for peace in this world, for the children and the generations to come, for us here today, if that be Your will.  I ask all in the Strong Name of Jesus.  Amen

 

Memorial Day 2012

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Like warriors they charge;

like soldiers they scale the wall.

They march each on his way;

they do not swerve from their paths. 

Joel 2:7

They do not swerve from their paths.  United States soldiers are obedient, trained, dutiful, and fight for freedom.  Let us not take what these men and women do and are for granted.  They need our prayers, our constant support, and ties back to their homeland.  Whether they fight in a war that we agree with or in one that we oppose, they are the soldiers of the United States of America.  Stand by them in every way possible.

Father, please hold each one closely in Your protective arms.  Show Yourself strong on their behalf as they do their duty on foreign soil or here.  Send Your angels to surround each one as they fight, as they teach, as they destroy explosive ordinances, as they train foreign armies, in all they do.  I thank You for each person who volunteers to go into the service in these times.  I thank You for giving them abilities to do what they must do.  No matter what the job, please be with them each and all.  If they do not know You, Father, nor Your Son, Jesus, I pray that through all of this, they will come to You.  Draw them near.  Place one of Your Christian soldiers with them.  Give that soldier boldness to share You with the other soldiers.  (I just read something from WWII where someone said, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”  Father, let there be no atheists in Iraq, in Afghanistan, especially among the USA soldiers, in those foxholes, or tents, or buildings, or desert.)  If natives are near our Christian soldiers, I pray Your light shine from each one to these Iraqis, these Afghans, these Pakistanis, these Libyans.  Father, I pray on my knees, lifting my hands to You for every one of our soldiers. 

The Lord utters His voice

before His army,

for His camp is exceedingly great;

he who executes His word is powerful.

For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome; 

who can endure it? 

Joel 2:11

Jesus, I pray Your angels surround these men and women as they serve.  I thank You that You are with so many in their spirits.  I thank You that keep them close to You in all types of situations.  If they serve at home, as they are on USA soil between deployments, care for them mentally and physically as well as spiritually.  Once they are home for good, please provide the stability they need to face their lives with family, friends, and life home again without war.  Especially, hold the soldiers close who have had brain injuries, physical traumas, fears and mental traumas.  Make them whole again, Lord.  Please.  Thank You for protecting my Kenneth while he fought in VietNam, for bringing him home safely and allowing us to meet and marry years later.  May we never, NEVER, treat our soldiers the way we treated our VietNam veterans upon their return home.  Thank You for keeping Jim safe through his two deployments to Iraq and one to Bahrain.  Lord, may we find ways to help our men and women today as they return home so that they find their way to Your safe haven, are able to live and love safely in their home country.


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 “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, 

and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of angels?”

   Matthew 26:53

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For those who have lost their lives in battle, while serving this country, Father, I pray You care for the families, the children, the wives, the mothers and fathers of each and every soldier, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  O, God, why do we have war?  I lost my Daddy many years ago after his safe return from the Pacific during WWII, and then his safe return from Operation Crossroads and Operation Greenhouse (pieces of the Manhattan Project after the War), yet unknown consequences from radiation were to take him from me, from my sisters, from my mom.  You know, Lord.  I was only 12.  I still miss him today.  Would You hold me longer?  Rock me to sleep those nights when I miss him so?  Care for all of us who have lost someone through war or military maneuvers of some sort.  I pray, Lord, from the depths of my heart.  Each soldier is a gift for the gifts they give to us through their duties, through their stance, their representation of America, through who they are.  Thank You for every one of them.  In the Strong Name of Jesus, Amen.

 

Credits:Flag photo: taken by me (5/2009)
two photos from VietNam Veterans’ Memorial State Park @ Angel Fire, NM (taken by me 10/2011)Arlington Cemetery: Remember {{Information |Description={{en|1=Picture of graves decorated with flags at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2008. }} |Source=Own work by uploader |Author=Remember |Date=May 26, 2008 |Permission=Public Domain

America

America the Beautiful
lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates
music by Samuel A. Ward 
when words and music combined, published 1910
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
 
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

 

 

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
 
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”   John 15:12-13
 
My thankfulness is focused upon men and women who have fought for my freedom, who have died in battle for this precious freedom, freedom to worship and honor God, to learn and be educated, to dwell in this land which I love, to have privileges that very few others in other lands have.  
To each one, I swell with pride.
Thank you –
… to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives in the Name of Jesus the Christ for my freedom to worship
… to the men and women who have sacrificed their very lives in the name of freedom for the United States of America
… to the men and women in uniform today fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq; stationed in other areas around the world
… to the families here at home while their loved ones are in the midst of war zones, stationed far away
… for the American flag and the country for which it stands
… for our Pledge of Allegiance with four precious words … “One nation under God”   (May we continue to honor You, God, in this country, remembering Who brought us here and Who reigns over our lives and our hearts.  Please LORD, forgive us for our trespasses, our misalliances, our ingratitude.)
… for this beautiful song with such powerful words, if we would only read and sing the other verses, understanding just what they say
… to my Daddy who served in WWII as a doctor/surgeon on the Pacific front; worked as part of the Manhattan Project, eventually to go to Bikini Island for Operation Crossroads (1946) and Eniwetok Island for Operation Greenhouse (1951) as a “Radiological Safety Officer”; served in the US Navy for 20 years as a doctor of medicine until his early death from Pancreatic cancer due to radiation exposure.  He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  He and others just did not know! But my father was so proud to serve this country and I am proud of him. 
…  to my Daddy whom I was blessed to have as my earthly father for almost 13 years of my life; his love and character truly were showered upon me.  My mother has said over the years that I am a lot like him. That makes me happy.  I miss you, Daddy.
…  to Mom, for her love to her children, raising us alone after Daddy died (we were 12, 10, 7)
… to my husband, Kenneth, who served in the VietNam War in the 101st Airborne; grateful he is here today;  and I am proud of him too.
… to Kenneth, for your love and kindness

LORD, each one has laid their life down for me in one way or another, whether in battle, in research, in raising children, in caring for family while the other was/is away at war.  I thank You for each one.  I wish we did not have to have war.  So many lives are affected.  One day, my LORD, there will be no more war.  I look forward to the day when the lion and the lamb will lie together in peace.  Hallelujah!  LORD, I praise You for all that You have done through these special people, through Your works, through the mighty hand that drew this world.  Forgive us for our arrogance and spiteful ways, for the unloving spirit we hold against others, for hatred and violence.  Oh, forgive us, Father.  Guide us and direct us in all we are and do.  May we be obedient to You, our Father.  Amen.  

photos: from Arlington National Cemetery website – http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/index.htm