Memorial Day Thought

Friends,

On this Memorial Day I would like take a moment to share a bit of wisdom from my father, William E. Wynne Sr. 1925-2017.

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Above, 1967 photo from Vietnam, my father is second from the left. The aircraft is a C-123 Provider.

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First, as most members of the armed services will remind us, and the public has mostly misunderstood, Memorial Day is not Veterans Day, it isn’t for thanking those who have served, it is intended to be a day of remembrance of all the Americans who lost their lives, and everything they might have ever done on this earth, in service to our Country.

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My father spent the years 1943-76 on active duty and last year he has laid to rest at Arlington, but he was no militarist.  He very rarely spoke of his views outside the family. He had one personal value that I’d like to share here: He adamantly believed that no American should express an opinion on a conflict until they have memorized the name and personal story of at least one fellow citizen who lost their life fighting in it.

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My father lead by example on this, and even when he was ninety, the could, given an hour of your time, tell you the names of 100 people who paid a terrible price and should be remembered on Memorial Day. If the number seems exaggerated, I can assure you it isn’t . WWII provided him with a somber start, as it took the lives of several dozen of his high school classmates, 23 in a single day.

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My fathers strongest bond to service was born of his years in the Seabees. Perhaps for this reason, he selected the name and story of Marvin G. Sheilds for me to learn. By the time I was nine I could share a brief biography of Shields. If you are among the Americans who cannot name a single person lost in Vietnam, perhaps spend 10 minutes of this Memorial Day reading his Wikipedia page and find out how his this man’s name became engraved on panel 2E of the Wall in DC.

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As he became older, my father developed a ritual. At the very end of a good day, he like to take some quiet time and reflect on men he once knew. To outsiders this was a mystery, but to dad it was the only way to come to terms with his unearned fortune of having a life that was taken away from them. Below is an excerpt from a story I wrote about my parents 65th wedding anniversary:

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 “Sunday night, with most of the family and friends on their way home, found my parents home suddenly quiet. While all of the afternoon’s conversations had been on family and good memories, my father, now almost 90 and somewhat frail, took the last hour of the evening to meet an obligation he finds very important;  I sit beside him and listen while he looks back through the decades to remember and speak the names and the stories of good men, who’s devotion to their Shipmates, the Navy and our Country cost them everything, including a chance to grow old with the families they loved. This spoken remembrance is central to my father’s gratitude for the great fortune of being married for 65 years.”

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If there is a particular American who died wearing the uniform of our country you wish to be remembered today, please take a moment to share their name in the comments.

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Wewjr.

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