It’s not about cookouts. It’s not about loading the kids and dogs into the car for a long weekend at the lake. It’s not about having an extra morning to sleep in.
It’s about a young man named Charles Saxton, who left his home in Maumee, Ohio in July of 1942 to serve his country. A year and a month later, he was killed in North Africa. I never knew Charles, he was my mother’s brother, and he died nine years before I was born.
It’s about another young man, named Ronald L. Babcock, whose helicopter was shot down over Laos in 1971. Pilots in other aircraft at the scene reported seeing Lieutenant Babcock and his observer, Sergeant First Class Fred Mooney, jump from the wreckage of their helicopter and run for cover, but they were shot by enemy troops in the tree line before they could make it. The fighting was so intense that their bodies were never recovered. Ron was a pilot with my own unit, the 1st Cavalry. I wore his MIA bracelet for so many years that it eventually disintegrated on my wrist.
It’s about a redheaded kid with freckles on his face, whose name I never knew. But I held his hand and talked to him while he bled out on a muddy trail on his second day with the unit.
Memorial Day isn’t about cookouts, or ballgames, or whatever it is most Americans will be doing today. It’s about these three young men, and over a million other young men who have given their lives since those first Minutemen squared off with the British at Lexington and Concord. It’s because of them that we can enjoy those cookouts, and ballgames and camping trips with the kids and dogs.
Take a few minutes to remember them today, and say a prayer of thanks.
Tags: 1st Cavalry, American revolution, enemy troops, helicopter crash, honoring our war dead, killed in action, Lexington and Concord, Memorial Day, MIA bracelet, military casualties, Minutemen, POW/MIA, Vietnam War, World War II