Memorial Day, 2023

Every year, usually a day later, i create a post to, hopefully gracefully, honor heroes, warrior heroes. When writing columns for The Lebanon Democrat for just shy of ten years, i attempted to do the same in my Thursday column. i did not wish either to be sappy or overly patriotic, nor to be acknowledged for caring about the tradition of the day. i certainly had no desire to use the holiday as some excuse for fun. i don’t denigrate those that enjoy the holiday, but i do hope they stop at least for a little while to pay respects to those who have died in military service to our country.

Last year, my thoughts changed a bit. You see, the ranks of the warriors with whom i served are being depleted, slowly, surely, and that surely is picking up speed. Memorial Day was not invented to show respect for warriors who completed their active duty service alive. But man, this is getting personal. i am losing warrior friends now.

One particular loss hit me harder last year. Al Pavich and i met on the quarterdeck of the USS Tripoli (LPH 10) at the Alava Pier on the US Naval Base, Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippines, January 1980. We were literally friends for life. But we were more than that. We shared a stateroom, we shared secrets no one else knew, we shared living, we shared golf, and we lived hard. Al retired as a commander, but he continued to serve, taking care of his fellow warriors and making a difference. His record is available. i won’t elaborate here.

So, to honor Al once more, i have copied and pasted last year’s post about Memorial Day below- it also paid my respect to the children and teachers who died tragically in Uvalde, Texas.

Understand, this is not just to honor Al. It is posted in the spirit of honoring those who died in military service, but also those who made it through and have passed away since. All of them served in the defense of our country.

Memorial Day, 2022:

Last night, i walked to the top of our hill, looked out over the gray Pacific, the term that means “peaceful in character or intent.” Magellan aptly named this vast sea because he thought it was peaceful, perhaps calm.

Four hundred and ninety-eight years ago, having just sailed through what is now known as the Straits of Magellan with four of his original fleet of five sailing ships, i’m sure that old Portuguese sea dog would have considered the Pacific as calm and peaceful. I’m sure Richard Henry Dana would agree with me.

Last night from my vantage point, the Pacific Ocean did appear peaceful. There was a faint glow of sun on the horizon below the clouds when, at 1948 GMT-7, i two-blocked my ensign.

My flag light makes this legal. I put that light up to keep the ensign flying 24/7 (as they say) because a number of my neighbors had complimented me for allowing them to see it as they got ready for work.

That little personal ceremony last night was to remember those children and teachers that died in Uvalde, Texas this past week. Our country’s flag being lowered to half mast was an appropriate way to grieve.

Tomorrow morning at 0800 GMT-7, i will be on that hill again to lower the ensign to half mast. Our U.S. Flag Code calls for our flag to be flown at half mast from 0800 to noon on Memorial Day. I will observe that.

This year, Memorial Day is particularly poignant for me. As i noted earlier, a close friend, a brother really, died May 10. Al Pavich doesn’t technically fit those we honor this Memorial Day. We honor those who died in military service to our country. Although Al retired from the Navy in 1998, he served his country and military veterans up until the day he died. And his passing too soon was directly related to injuries he suffered in his tour in Vietnam.

As i have mentioned here earlier and elsewhere, Al’s passing has hit me hard. We went through two deployments, good times, hard times, secrets between us, and understanding. Brothers. And through it all, i knew there were others, and those others kept growing in numbers, who felt that bonding with Al as i did. As i promised, I will write more of this hero here when i have a better control of me.

Tomorrow, up on that hill, Al Pavich will be one of the heroes i honor with my lowering and raising the ensign. It is good to have moments of silence in their honor.

There are other thoughts i have tonight, but we need a rest; we need to think about the good of this country; for a moment, we need to stop the asinine rock throwing at each other, and honor those who have died for our country.

Rest in peace, you warriors of honor. You too, Al.

Rest in peace.

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