Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day

Seen from here, they have no names. They could be any men, from any war.

Those men I remembered on Monday...

The three Badgers you already know about, if you’ve been reading here long. Good men, taken much too soon. We all know far too well that the bomb that took them could have claimed any three of us.

A sniper killed Major Olmstead while he tried to talk insurgents into surrendering, rather than running away and forcing his men to shoot. Captain Casey was killed when he went to aid Major Olmstead. Major Olmstead became the first milblogger that I know of to be killed in action in Iraq- his last post was published by a friend and spoke at length of his life’s philosophy and final regret at having died.


LTC Jack Friedrichsen was my grandfather, an Army Air Corps veteran of World War II. He died while I was in training to deploy to Iraq, just days after my 22nd birthday. In the birthday card he sent to me that year, he told me how proud he was that I had chosen to serve my country and wished me safety in Iraq. I was reading it on my bunk when they came to tell me he was dead.

Pvt. James Kern

Another man I remembered Monday was one I had only just come to know, a little. Private James Kern was a veteran of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry in the Civil War. He died in 1928 and was buried in the Civil War-era "Silent Camp" in Boise. His grave formed an empty space between the weathered rows of marble- at some point since his burial, his headstone disappeared. Perhaps he never had one in the first place. Monday was Boise's day to give him the honor he deserved.

Civil War reenacters fire a salute to Pvt. Kern

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Last Monday in May


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release May 2, 2000

Memorandum on the White House Program for the National Moment
of Remembrance

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

Subject: White House Program for the National Moment of Remembrance

As Memorial Day approaches, it is time to pause and consider the
true meaning of this holiday. Memorial Day represents one day of
national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died
while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these
heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to
securing our Nation's freedom, we should honor them especially on
Memorial Day.
In this time of unprecedented success and prosperity throughout our
land, I ask that all Americans come together to recognize how fortunate
we are to live in freedom and to observe a universal ``National Moment
of Remembrance'' on each Memorial Day. This memorial observance
represents a simple and unifying way to commemorate our history and
honor the struggle to protect our freedoms.
Accordingly, I hereby direct all executive departments and agencies,
in consultation with the White House Program for the National Moment of
Remembrance (Program), to promote a ``National Moment of Remembrance''
to occur at 3 p.m. (local time) on each Memorial Day.
Recognizing that Memorial Day is a Federal holiday, all executive
departments and agencies, in coordination with the Program and to the
extent possible and permitted by law, shall promote and provide
resources to support a National Moment of Remembrance, including:
  • Encouraging individual department and agency personnel, and Americans everywhere, to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.
  • Recognizing, in conjunction with Memorial Day, department and agency personnel whose family members have made the ultimate sacrifice for this Nation.
  • Providing such information and assistance as may be necessary for the Program to carry out its functions.
I have asked the Director of the White House Millennium Council to issue additional guidance, pursuant to this Memorandum, to the heads of
executive departments and agencies regarding specific activities and
events to commemorate the National Moment of Remembrance.

William J. Clinton

Who do you remember today?

3 o'clock.

Lieutenant Colonel Jack Friedrichsen, US Air Force

Second bell.

Major Andrew Olmsted,
US Army
Captain Thomas Casey, US Army

3 strikes for the hour.

Sergeant Ross Clevenger, US Army
Sergeant Jim Holtom, US Army
Private First Class Ray Werner, US Army

Tomorrow I'll write about today, and post some pictures.
Today, I'll remember.