Armed Forces Day/Memorial Day

Hello Everyone - This is Armed Forces Day - 20 May. As we observe this date and come up on Memorial Day on the 29th, I find myself thinking more and more of those who went before us, picked up the gauntlet, and stepped to the fight. Since the day is indeed named "Memorial Day", I think mostly of those who - as the saying goes - 'gave all'. As I get older and come to know and enjoy our liberties more and more, I am ever more grateful to those who died that I - and all of you - can breath this wonderful air of, and in, freedom. My friend Bob Slaughter, with whom I was lucky enough to collaborate on his D-Day piece "A New Dawn Forever", sent along the video you can link to just below. I think it is terrific and an absolutely appropriate 'thank you'. My sister in law, Betty Mallory - who let me record her lovely song, "The Blues are Running", and which you can hear on my website, sent me a piece she wrote last Fourth of July. Although it is intended to speak directly to Memorial Day this year, I know it is her belief - as it is mine - that the sentiments and the thoughts expressed are not just for this Memorial Day, but for all of them. In July of 1944, her uncle, John Graham Sexton, was a 21-year old Private First Class serving with the 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Division. He missed D-Day, having put ashore with the rest of his division between 22-26 July. I won't tell you any more. It would be much better for you to read what Betty wrote. She was kind enough to let me publish it here. I think it is about as eloquent a work as I've heard. Thank you for sharing this with us, Betty. Two Identification Bracelets It’s the Fourth of July and I’m reading PFC. John Graham Sexton’s letters sent from England during World War II. He was my godfather, my mother’s youngest brother. I have no real personal memory of him, only that memory given by others who tell you what they want you to know. He grew up in our small mountain town with his five brothers and sisters. He loved his bird dog, “Jack,” and together they hunted for pheasants and grousein the fields near his home. When he joined the army in 1943, along with many of his young friends, he entered a life totally foreign to anything he had ever known. In his photographed V-mail letters, he speaks of trying to find a friend fromour town who is rumored to be in a camp nearby…searching for something of home…trying to touch the familiar. As his birthday (July 4th) nears, he mentions his desire to have an identification bracelet. Could his family get him one for his birthday? An answer to the question, “Who am I?” The dog tags around his neckdenote a G.I.-Government Issue. Not enough. A need for validation of identity. “Don’t put anything else on it, only my name.” My mother wrote to tell him that I would soon participate in my first communion service at Eastertime. Although he was far away, he wanted to mark the occasion with a gift, and he thought again of a bracelet. This one would be a feminine and smaller version of his own, inscribed on front and back with our names and the important date, Easter, 1944. He wrote to me. It is the only letter I ever received from war. "Thinking of you on your special day. I will be attending Mass here at about the same time you will be making your first Communion. Love, Uncle John" His last letter to us was dated, July 28, 1944 from “somewhere in France.” When the dreaded Western Union telegram arrived, his heart-broken and rage-filled mother took her scissors and cut away her baby boy’s blue star from the red-rimmed banner that hung in her front window. She left there the remaining star that symbolized the service of her lone surviving son, Johnny’s brother. Now memorialized by a plaque that hangs in the rear of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Wytheville, Virginia, his validation reads… “Greater Love Hath No Man.” Somewhere long ago, I lost my little gold identification bracelet.This Memorial Day, I will wear John Graham’s. Betty Lou Allison Mallory July 4, 2005 "Your silent tents of green We deck with fragrant flowers; Yours has the suffering been, The memory shall be ours." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - Provider Search Box: frank emerson

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