by Richard ~
A Collection of My Nonfiction Thoughts and Opinions
| Memorial Day isn't a day the marks the unofficial "First Day of Summer". Nor is it the last holiday weekend of the school year before the testing grind kicks in. It isn't about Bar-B-Ques and a long weekend binge. Memorial Day is a day to remember and give thanks to the oft-times frightened, lonely service members who sacrificed everything to protect us from whatever evil sought to harm us.
Memorial Day is especially important to me as a personal remembrance of four family members, all of whom served honorably in wars their country chose to fight. I'm not here to debate the justness or righteousness of any particular conflict. The nature of the conflict and our opinion of that conflict bears no weight on the sacrifices made by those who were killed in them.
PFC John Charles Parry USMC, was born on the 1st. of August in 1930. His Parents John and Rose, were my God Parents. I wasn't born until 1955, though it wasn't really spoken of I knew, once I was old enough to recognize nuance that they were selected as my God Parents to honor Johnny. I never got to meet my "cousin by choice". In a far away place called Korea on Thursday, November 20th. in 1952, Johnny was Killed in Action. Hopefully, he was surrounded by fellow soldiers who cared for him.
Ray Giglio (not sure about the spelling of his last name) was a bit more fortunate than my cousin Johnny. Ray was a family friend, via his relationship with my older brother George. Ray was what we would now call a special needs student, functional, but not likely to flourish without guidance and support. At the tender age of 19, Ray was scooped up in the same draft class that took my brother. After training, in Urban Warfare by the way, Ray was shipped off to Viet Nam and whatever horrors awaited him there. I can't begin to fathom what he faced, I can tell you how much what he saw and experienced changed him. He came back addicted to pot and alcohol, he suffered from nightmares and insomnia. Whatever chemicals he was exposed to ruined his health. He finally succumbed to chronic kidney failure in the late 80s. Just a delayed casualty of another war.
My brother George, was lucky in many ways, unlike Ray, after Basic Training, he was sent to Jungle Training. Then the Army, in its infinite wisdom sent him to a Mechanized Unit in Germany. I hope the irony of the Army's wisdom in training and assignment aren't lost, Ray went to 'Nam after Urban Training, my brother to Germany after Jungle Training. Nonetheless, my brother returned to us a different person. Easily spooked, more reserved and less likely to laugh at silliness. I missed him terribly while he was gone and I missed the brother I had before he went. I was very happy to have him safely home, in any form.
My father George served in the Army during World War Two. He truly was a member of the greatest generation, after returning form the War, he overcame huge obstacles to raise a family. Often working two jobs, he provided a home and a life that allowed three children to grow and prosper. My father was a recipient of the Purple Heart for a wound he received during The Battle of the Bulge. I could never get him to share that history or experience, it was something he kept locked deep inside him.
No Memorial Day isn't a day to celebrate and party, it's a day to remember and thank those who gave their lives to serve their Country. Yes, it's okay to Thank a Veteran if you see one, you should do that Every Day! But today, as your watching the parade go by, remember when you take off your cap and place it over your heart, you are saluting the brave men and women who gave their all for that flag.
...I'm only the trombone player!