This morning I read an article telling how many memorials built to honor those who died or served in the First World War are falling into disrepair. With a tight economy, many can’t be repaired. World War One was known as the Great War and the “War to End All Wars.” Little did we know.
Men and women have always gone off to serve, prepared to give what Lincoln called “the last full measure.” They should be remembered, but memorial buildings and monuments aren’t necessary. The second most impressive memorial I’ve ever seen is Arlington National Cemetery with the Tomb of the Unknowns. We don’t know names, but we know their spirit. We remember.
By far the most impressive memorial that too many of us have seen is very temporary. Combat boots with an inverted M-16, dog tags and a helmet. This was the memorial for the service members we had lost from our base. It seems like there was always more than one.
The base theater/chapel was where these were placed and as the military members entered, the placed their rifles under the pews – bumping the boxes of tissues that had already been prepositioned there. The lost member might be from any service – we all were working together.
Friends spoke of the fallen. We’d file past the memorials and render a slow salute; commanders would leave their unit coin as a tribute to each of the fallen.
An hour after the troops left, the memorials were gone.
It’s what comes from the heart that remembers these heroes, not necessarily buildings or stadiums. So today, remember – from the heart.
Posted in Communications, Culture, Family, Friends, Government, History, Holidays, Leadership, Media, Military, People, Philosophy, Politics, the Terrorists and you
Tagged Afghanistan, Arlington National Cemetery, History, Iraq, Korea, Kuwait, Memorial Day, OEF, OIF, Tomb of the Unknown, United States, United States Armed Forces, Viet Nam, World War I, World War II
“America’s Greatest Flag Officer” by Chuck Steele which appears in the June 2013 issue of Naval History magazine, is fascinating. When most people thing of World War I they immediately think of John “Black Jack” Pershing. Pershing’s success and reputation is no accident; he chose assignments based on how well they would benefit his future success. While stationed at Fort Russell in Wyoming, he married Frances Warren the daughter of the most powerful politician in the state (also named Francis).
Pershing used his political clout with Teddy Roosevelt to be promoted from captain directly to brigadier general, skipping over 3 ranks and 860 senior officers. He achieved the highest rank ever awarded – “U.S. General of the Armies” equivalent to a six-star general. It was such a unique honor that Congress in 1976 posthumously promoted George Washington out of courtesy.
In the meantime, William S. Sims career was unfolding in somewhat a similar manner. The difference was that he tended to seek assignments that would better the ability of the Navy, taking chances that could have hurt his career but were nevertheless the right thing to do. He accepted assignments that exposed him to the British, French and Russian Navies, and when he realized that the US Navy was not an equal, he pressed against the bureaucracy for years to bring about improvements. It’s testimony to his ability that he was able to take on the establishment and still be promoted.
American entry into the world war was critical to its outcome, and it ended a year and a half later. During that time, Sims was a most effective officer, while Pershing managed to infuriate his French counterpart.
Today, history remembers Pershing and has all but forgotten Sims. However, Sims made his choices based on what was best for the Navy, and did not seek glory, so I think he’d be fine with that.
Posted in Culture, Government, History, Leadership, Military, People, Philosophy, Politics
Tagged George Washington, John J. Pershing, Naval Institute, Pershing, United States, USNI, William Sims, World War I, World War II, Wyoming