May 28, 2007

This Memorial Day... (Bumped)

Enjoy your vacation, but always, remember them.


Also: The lyrics from Trace Atkins' tribute, Arlington (Video available here).

I never thought that this is where I'd settle down.
I thought I'd die an old man back in my hometown.
They gave me this plot of land,
Me and some other men, for a job well done.

There's a big White House sits on a hill just up the road.
The man inside, he cried the day they brought me home.
They folded up a flag and told my Mom and Dad:
"We're proud of your son."

And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property.
I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company.
I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done.
I can rest in peace;
I'm one of the chosen ones:
I made it to Arlington.

I remember Daddy brought me here when I was eight.
We searched all day to find out where my grand-dad lay.
And when we finally found that cross,
He said: "Son, this is what it cost to keep us free."

Now here I am, a thousand stones away from him.
He recognized me on the first day I came in.
And it gave me a chill when he clicked his heels,
And saluted me.

And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property.
I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company.
I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done.
I can rest in peace;
I'm one of the chosen ones:
I made it to Arlington.

And everytime I hear twenty-one guns,
I know they brought another hero home to us.

And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property.
I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company.
We're thankful for those thankful for the things we've done.
We can rest in peace;
'Cause we are the chosen ones:
We made it to Arlington.

Yeah, dust to dust,
Don't cry for us:
We made it to Arlington.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 28, 2007 09:53 AM

That was touching. What? No, I just got something in my eye, that's all.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at May 25, 2007 10:27 AM

Is that one of those electronic trumpets that the US Army had to introduce because of a lack of trained trumpeters?

Posted by: Max at May 25, 2007 11:16 AM

In Arlington? Get a life, Max.

Posted by: SGT Jeff (USAR) at May 25, 2007 11:40 AM

While buglers are few and far between and anyone can volunteer to be on the base Honor Guard (in addition to regular duties), the Arlington Detail is the real deal--a full time assignment.

I posted the following at Blackfive but it fits the topic here too:

Gentlemen and ladies of the mess, a toast--to our fallen comrades!

I played trumpet in high school. During my last 10 years of active duty, I volunteered my services for the base Honor Guard wherever I was stationed. In Utah snow, Alabama heat, Georgia thunderstorms, Hawaiian breeze and California smog, I stood to the side of the firing squad, or sometimes alone when no other Honor Guard was present. For several hours a week (including weekends) it would be my honor to pay respects for those who had served.

It's been a year since my last Taps--for my stepfather. God rest them all. -cp

Posted by: cold pizza at May 25, 2007 02:24 PM

Just so happens the wife and I are going to see them this weekend. It will be her first time to DC and she's excited.

Have a nice M Day, CY.

Posted by: Dusty at May 25, 2007 02:25 PM

Thanks for keeping it classy-less Max.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at May 25, 2007 11:35 PM

Just got home from helping my son and other scouts from the area place flags on veteran's graves. There were a few veterans putting up a new flag, performing a rifle salute, and yes, even one of them played taps.

Was with my daughter a couple of years ago at Arlington. Visited the national cemetery at Vicksburg with my parents a few years ago and several years ago, during the 50th anniversary celebration of the liberation of Holland, visited Margraten - though our trip there was a coincidence.

It is humbling to think of all that served and all that lost their lives in the service of our country.

Rest in Peace.

Posted by: SouthernRoots at May 26, 2007 03:09 PM

Thanks for the post CY. Time for everyone, including Max, to remember the honorees.

Posted by: Specter at May 27, 2007 11:23 AM

let's remember ALL of them...


Asked to Serve Again, a Soldier Goes Down Fighting

By Dan Barry

HOLLYWOOD, Md. The sniper fired. It was a clean shot, if there is such a thing. And down for good fell another American soldier.

His name was Sergeant James Dean, but everyone called him Jamie. He was the farm boy who fished, hunted and tossed a horseshoe like nobody else. He was the guy at the end of Toots Bar, nursing a Bud and talking Nascar. He was the driver of that blue Silverado at the red light, his hands on the wheel, his mind on combat horrors that made him moody, angry, withdrawn. Now here he was, another American soldier, dead. Only Sergeant Dean was killed at the front door of his childhood home, the day after Christmas and three weeks before his redeployment, shot by a sniper representing the government for whom he had already risked his life in Afghanistan. His wife and parents received the news not by a knock on the door, but by gunfire in the neighborhood.

“If they had just left him alone,” says his wife, Muriel.

In the summer of 2001, weeks before Sept. 11, Jamie stunned his family by enlisting in the Army; he was 23. A woman had just broken his heart, yes, but he explained that he wanted to experience life beyond installing air conditioners in confining St. Mary’s County. And his younger sister, an Air Force medic, had been talking up the military. From April 2004 to April 2005, Jamie served in Afghanistan, far from the Chesapeake Bay. Now and then he’d talk to family members by telephone. “Just, ‘Hi, I’m fine,’ ” his mother, Elaine, says. “Or, ‘It sucks here.’ ”

Jamie came back quieter in the summer of 2005, with “DEAN” tattooed on his upper back and a cobra tattooed on his muscle-defined arm. But he kept private any changes beneath the skin, his mother says. “ ‘You don’t want to know, Mom,’ he would always say.” One night at Toots, while drinking a beer, he met a woman named Muriel whose bluish-green eyes entranced him. The couple became inseparable, cobbling together a family that included her two children, three dogs and a cat. Muriel’s good for Jamie, people said, even without knowing how she was nudging him to get counseling for nightmares so bad they would both wake up soaked in sweat.

“The patient states he feels very nervous, has a hard time sleeping, feels nauseous in the a.m., and loses his temper a lot, ‘real bad,’ ” reported a Veterans Affairs evaluation from December 2005. “Was nearby an explosion that destroyed an Humvee with four G.I.’s killed in front of his eyes.” “The patient is tired of feeling bad,” it said. Jamie was prescribed some medication that did not seem to work at first. (“Cries for no reason,” said a report in February 2006.) His doctor adjusted the prescription. Things got better, it seemed. Jamie returned to air-conditioning work. He donned a white tuxedo and married Muriel in a summer ceremony at the Elks Lodge. He sang some country-western karaoke and talked about getting his wife to go deer hunting. A few days after Thanksgiving, a FedEx truck delivered an envelope to the Dean farm just as Jamie was about to go hunting. It was a form letter of redeployment, as impersonal as a bank statement.

“It was downhill after that,” Muriel says. He withdrew from the present, it seemed. He drank more, and took his medication less. Finally, on Christmas Day, he and Muriel returned from a family gathering with plans to watch his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys, on television. He went out to buy some beer — but went to Toots Bar instead. She called him, and he came home, livid. He smashed some glasses, said something about winding up in a body bag, and sped away in his Silverado. He wound up at the family home, alone, talking on a cellphone with his sister, Kelly, saying things like: “I just can’t do it anymore.” When his sister heard a gunshot, she called 911.

The deputy sheriffs arrived at the isolated farmhouse around 10 p.m. and quickly determined that Jamie was drunk, agitated and carrying a shotgun. He told the deputies to back off. Based on something a family member had said, the police knew that Jamie had other shotguns in the house, but they mistakenly believed he was an Army Ranger. “Rambo,” his mother says ruefully. At 4:19 in the morning, the police shot dozens of tear-gas canisters, smashing the windows in front of Jamie’s horseshoe trophies, piercing walls decorated with garland. Several minutes later, Jamie fired shotgun pellets in the general direction of a police car parked at least 50 yards away. Then he sat down on the back porch.

A situation in which an armed man was in his own house, alone and a threat to no one but himself, had now escalated into a military action. On the ground, men with guns; in the sky, the whop-whop of helicopters. Now and then, Jamie would respond to some movement or sound with a shot into the ground or into the air. Around noon, two negotiators pulled up to a family friend’s garage, where Jamie’s loved ones were cloistered a half-mile away. His wife was pacing. His mother was bracing herself. His father, Joey, was staring into the woods. The negotiators asked them to say gentle things to Jamie into a tape-recorder. Muriel remembers calling him baby, saying she loved him and asking him to come on out.

At 12:25, a negotiator talked briefly by telephone to Jamie, who indicated he might come out; “I’m going home,” he said. Then the police cellphone’s battery died.

At 12:34, Jamie was reached again by telephone, but the volume was low and the negotiator could not make out what was being said.

At 12:45, the police cut power to the house and began shooting more tear gas through the front and the back of the house.

At 12:47, an armored vehicle called a Peace Keeper pulled up to the house. Jamie opened the front door and, according to the police, pointed his 20-gauge shotgun at the vehicle. A state police sniper, positioned in a garage 70 yards away, took aim.

Later, a spokesman for the Maryland State Police would say the department was reviewing its actions, but would refer to a statement by its superintendent, Col. Thomas E. Hutchins, in which he said that Sergeant Dean bore “sole responsibility.” The police could not walk away, the colonel had said, because the soldier had the potential to do harm to himself or to others. Later, Richard D. Fritz, the state’s attorney for St. Mary’s County, would criticize the state police as using tactics that were “progressively assaultive” and “most unfortunate.”

In the end, he would say, this paramilitary operation was “directed at an individual down at the end of a dark road, holed up in his father’s house, with no hostages.” And later, the Dean family would be left with the mess of absence. Jamie’s blood on the cream-colored carpet. The dozens of holes in the walls. The family photo albums that still carry the whiff of tear gas, burning the eyes.

But at that moment, in the early afternoon of the day after Christmas, they heard the gunfire in the distance, and they knew another American soldier had fallen.


Posted by: j at May 27, 2007 03:52 PM

Every Memorial Day we drove to my grandmother's house in Western Pennsylvania and took her out to my uncle's grave. I remember all the tiny flags over the field, hundreds of them, and the lines of cars, all the families laying flowers on the headstones of the boys.

They're gone now, my father and grandmother, and I live hundreds of miles to the south. I wonder who takes care of those graves of all those boys who remain young in their pictures, proud in their uniforms, eager to be off to see the elephant.

I can't even write about my friends' names on the wall. I still see their faces, 35 years later, and it's too hard.

Children. We send children. We should run things backwards, let the children have their time and send just us old men.

There would be far fewer wars I expect. Far fewer.

Posted by: David Terrenoire at May 29, 2007 01:58 PM


INteresting that you use an extreme example of a extremely emotionally disturbed returning soldier that reflects .0000000000000001% of returning vets.

Makes me wonder about your sincerity about "honoring" our troops.

Makes me think maybe your pursuing a political agenda. Oh- its from the NY Times? Say no more.

If anyone could ignore the 100s of thousands of vets that served in Iraq and came home only to lead normal, happy lives with their families, to focus on a terrible but isolated incident to represent all vets, its the NY Times.

Propagandists all think alike.

Posted by: TMF at May 29, 2007 02:01 PM


"Children. We send children. We should run things backwards, let the children have their time and send just us old men"

INteresting pithy remark

I wonder how we would have fared in Normandy if the average soldiers age was 50

I guess its food for thought (but not really)

Posted by: TMF at May 29, 2007 02:05 PM


One of the few things I did well in basic training was run the obstacle course. I ate that thing up. Took to it like a kid takes to a jungle gym.

Ten years after my ETS I had a chance to run the course at Quantico. I was in my early 30's and still felt like a kid, but the first wall I came to I tried to scale like I had before and it felt like I had concrete in my pockets. My body had betrayed me, had edged into middle age without warning.

So no, old men can't scale Pointe du Hoc, sadly for our kids. And sadly for us, too.

Posted by: David Terrenoire at May 29, 2007 02:57 PM