I doubt if wars will ever end during my lifetime or even that of my grandson’s. They have existed in some form for hundreds of reasons since the first cave man led his tribe against a neighboring tribe.  I doubt too if there has ever been a single year since recorded history when a war was not being fought in some location about the world.

As a writer, I read quite a bit of history during the research periods for my novels. Often I come upon the stories of little known wars now lost to time in faraway places where the reasons for battle were ridiculous. But, there are an equal number of stories where freedom against oppression was the courageous driving force and no alternative existed except to fight. Between the ridiculous and courageous reasons for the wars lie the surviving veterans, the wounded, the dead, and those family members and loved ones left to mourn.

Active duty men and women in our armed forces fulfill the need to protect us around the clock and serve wherever the need sends them, regardless of the hardships they and their families must endure. The veteran, wounded or not, looks back upon his or her military service with mixed emotions of pride at having served, remorse at the loss of friends and comrades, and must live with the memories and harsh realities of what they participated in and witnessed. As for the dead, they now rest in silence with GOD, hoping their ultimate sacrifice was not in vain.

Memorial Day has gone through many changes since its first creation as Decorations Day. Now it encompasses all military personnel, past and present, rather than only those that died. From the simple act of placing flowers upon a grave to parades in some communities, we honor our armed forces and remember in our own ways.

Until you have lost your freedom, you will never fully understand the value of it. Until you look upon the stars and stripes furling above you in the breeze, and realize the true value of your nation, you will never fully understand the sacrifices made for it.

Admiral Chester Nimitz made two famous statements. After the fierce fighting on Iwo Jima, he said, “Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

And speaking of those who died in the war in the Pacific, which may be stated for all wars, he said, “They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side…To them, we have a solemn obligation — the obligation to ensure that their sacrifice will help make this a better and safer world in which to live.”

Wherever you are on Memorial Day or any other day, take a moment to pay tribute to all that have given of themselves from every race, creed and color, so you may now have the freedom to do as you wish.  There is no glory in war, only pain and suffering. Even its victory in the end is bittersweet.

Glenn Starkey

USMC, 1969-1974, Vietnam veteran


In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.