Memorial Day and I am thinking of Veterans!!

Many people have longstanding traditions on the unofficial start of the summer season.  We used to have cookouts to start the season.  For a couple of years we would go to Maryland or to Virginia Beach.  We definitely look forward to getting together with friends and family.  On Saturday we threw a cookout and invited a few friends over.  Julius, Gram, Joe, Brett, Nut, Raeesah and her friend, Chuck Parks and Kevin Parks and Peaches all attended.  The next day we went to the Wallace's to party on day two.  It was a rainy day but Mike Wallace had the grill smoking and K Wall had the jerk wings jumping.

I spent the early part of yesterday watching an HBO special entitled 'Last Letter Home'.  It depicted family members talking about the last letters that they received from their loved ones that were serving in Iraq.  One Mother was so shocked that her son expressed his love and respect for her in such an eloquent manner.  She immediately thought that something was wrong.  When two soldiers and a Chaplain showed up at her door, it confirmed her worst suspicions.  Another young Hispanic soldier drowned with the rest of his team in a tank that went over a bridge.  He was asking for prayers and basic toiletries.

I have a number of friends and family who served in the military.  My Brother Gary was not killed in action.  He served admirably.  He was a Ranger.  He was skilled in Tae Kwon Do.  He developed cancer in his brain and fought valiantly until the end.  His remains rest peacefully in Arlington.  My brothers David, Brian, Gregory and Joseph all served in the military.  Many of Gram's friends did not return from Beirut after a suicide bomber drove his truck into the base that they were staying at.  I will always remember the family of Louis Rotondo staying in touch with Gram long after their son did not return home alive.  I think the bombing in Beirut affected my Brother in ways that only he knows also.

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Another HBO special yesterday featured employees who work on a Crisis Hotline for soldiers.  They receive upwards of 20,000 calls a month from veterans who are experiencing crises related to adjusting to civilian life after deployments.  It is estimated that 22 soldiers a day commit suicide for any number of reasons.  There is an organization in Philadelphia that Rab works for, Impact Services, that provides services to veterans who need employment and housing assistance.  There are also the horror stories of soldiers who cannot get adequate care at Veteran's Administration hospital locally and nationwide.  The reasons for the shortfall in care boggle my mind.

It was a peaceful day yesterday.  I wish the same mental peace to soldiers trying to adjust to life after the military.  A friend that I went to Howard with, Victor Harmon, retired after numerous years serving our country.  Tony Parks, who just came into town for a Mason convention, is retiring after nearly twenty years.  Oliver Adams, Allen Payne and many other friends served and came back in one piece.  I feel for the soldiers who lost limbs and mental sanity while serving.  Those who respond to acts of terrorism are sometimes affected by PTSD.  I hope they receive the medical care that they need to readjust to civilian life.  I honor those who have served our country on Memorial Day.  God Bless the Families of those who provided the ultimate sacrifice.

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