Memorial Day 2017

A Marine at Vietnam Memorial on July 4 2002
A Marine at Vietnam Memorial on July 4 2002 By Meutia Chaerani – Indradi Soemardjan

Ever have an earworm? You know what I mean, a song running through your head that you can’t get out no matter how hard you try. Last year, just after Veterans Day, I had an earworm. Only a bit of the song, a plaintive voice singing a capella. After a few days of it driving me crazy, I’m going to share it with you this Memorial Day. Not because I want to drive you crazy too, but because this is where it belongs. It still makes me cry.

The Ballad of Penny Evans by the late, great Steve Goodman.

Oh my name is Penny Evans and my age is twenty-one
A young widow in the war that’s being fought in Viet Nam
And I have two infant daughters and I do the best I can
Now they say the war is over, but I think it’s just begun.

And I remember I was seventeen on the day I met young Bill
At his father’s grand piano, we’d play good old ‘Heart and Soul’
And I only knew the left hand part and he the right so well
And he’s the only boy I ever slept with and the only one I will.

It’s first we had a baby girl and we had two good years
And, it was next the 1A notice came and we parted without tears
And it was nine months from our last good night our second babe appears
And so it’s ten months and a telegram confirming all our fears.

And now every month I get a check from an Army bureaucrat
And it’s every month I tear it up and I mail the damn thing back.
Do you think that makes it all right, do you think I’d fall for that ?
And you can keep your bloody money, it sure won’t bring my Billy back.

I never cared for politics, and speeches I don’t understand,
And likewise never took no charity from any living man
But tonight there’s fifty thousand gone in that unhappy land
And fifty thousand ‘Heart and Soul’s’ being played with just one hand.

And my name is Penny Evans and I’ve just gone twenty-one
A young widow in the war that’s being fought in Viet Nam
And I have two infant daughters and I thank God I have no sons
Now they say the war is over, but I think it’s just begun.

Memorial Day 2016

civil war marker

This Memorial Day, as for every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the village where I live has posted memorial markers along all of the major streets in town to commemorate those related to this place who fought in the service of this country, and died either in conflict or later, after their service was done.

While I expected to see markers for those who served after this place was founded (1876), I recently discovered that there are few markers from even earlier wars, as seen in the above photograph. There is also a marker for someone who fought in the Revolutionary War, at least according to the list published by the village, but the marker itself doesn’t show the war.

Because this whole thing fascinates me, I finally looked up the process for getting one of these markers. A family member for any deceased service member, if that family member now lives here, can get a marker for their relative. Considering the rules on establishing both kinship and the proof of service, I do wonder how much paperwork it took to get that Revolutionary War marker placed. The Civil War marker was probably quite a bit easier.

Long story short, I could get one for my father. I live here, and he served in the Army Air Corps after World War II. He was still in high school during the war. Admittedly, he didn’t serve long. Not that anything terrible happened, and in any other branch of the service it wouldn’t have mattered, but my dad, who had 20/20 vision, had no depth perception. He could fly the plane just fine, but he couldn’t land very well on visual flight. The story was that he never dealt the runway the “glancing blow” that you were supposed to, but rather dropped the plane onto the tarmac from just slightly too high off the ground. Planes don’t bounce terribly well, and flight instructors are not very happy with being bounced – especially over and over by the same person. He was honorably discharged in less than a year. In 1946, the services didn’t need more people, they had plenty of WWII veterans returning who found civilian life not quite what they remembered.

But I could get him a marker. And I’ve thought about it. But in order to do so, I’d have to make him a test case. (He might like that, he did always love tilting at windmills). All the markers are crosses, and the regulations state that “Markers will be constructed in a uniform fashion.” That uniform fashion is a cross. The use of this religious symbol presumes that all the honorees have been and will always be Christian. My father was a Jew. And he served. But for him, a cross is not an honor. It’s a denial.

On this Memorial Day, and every Memorial Day, it is important to remember, and to honor ALL who served.

memorial day duluth

Memorial Day 2015

street crosses duluth memorial day

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It is officially celebrated the last Monday in May, and is a federal holiday to honor and remember the people who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, began as a way of remembering those killed in the Civil War. And the custom was to decorate cemeteries where those who had fallen in that war were buried.

Today, the holiday commemorates all those who have died in uniform, whenever, wherever and however they served.

The picture above is from Duluth, Georgia, where I currently live. Every year, the week before Memorial Day, the town lines all the major roads with crosses, commemorating the sons and daughters of the town who served and fell.

As you can see from the picture, that service spans all the wars since the town of Duluth received its charter in 1876. This picture is the first time I’ve seen one of the crosses for someone who served in Iraq, but I wasn’t surprised to find one. I’m pretty sure that I have seen crosses for those who served in the Spanish-American War in 1898. I have also found crosses for female soldiers. Not many, but they are there.

What continues to surprise me is that I have seen only crosses. No Stars of David. No Star and Crescents. No symbols to represent Hinduism or Buddhism. And I can’t help but wonder, were all the people who served from this community Christian? Did no one of any other faith, or none, come from this place to serve their country? And if not, why not?

Or has their service been forgotten?

Memorial Day is the day that we remember ALL of those who gave their lives for this country, no matter who they prayed to, or if they prayed at all, before they fell.

memorial day flags and crosses duluth

Review: The Way of the Warrior by Suzanne Brockmann and others

way of the warrior by Suzanne BrockmanFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: military romance
Series: Deep Six #0.5, Elite Force #4.5, Protect and Serve #0.5, Endgame Ops #0.5, Justiss Alliance #3.5, Night Stalkers #6.6, West Coast Navy SEALs #3.5, Troubleshooters #17.5
Length: 512 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: May 5, 2015
Purchasing Info: Julie Ann Walker’s Website, Catherine Mann’s Website, Kate SeRine’s Website, Lea Griffith’s Website, Tina Wainscott’s Website, M.L. Buchman’s Website, Anne Elizabeth’s Website, Suzanne Brockmann’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

EIGHT PASSIONATE LOVE STORIES ABOUT AMAZING MILITARY HEROES BY BESTSELLING AUTHORS:
Suzanne Brockmann, Julie Ann Walker, Catherine Mann, Tina Wainscott, Anne Elizabeth, M.L. Buchman, Kate SeRine, Lea Griffith

To honor and empower those who’ve served, all author and publisher proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2002 and provides a wide range of programs and services to veterans and service members who have survived physical or mental injury during their brave service to our nation. Get involved or register for programs and benefits for yourself and your family online at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

“It is a proud privilege to be a soldier.” —George S. Patton Jr.
“We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.” —Winston Churchill

My Review:

The Way of the Warrior is a collection of military romance stories that was published in support of the Wounded Warrior Project. All of the author and publisher proceeds are going to the project, in honor of those who have served.

Some of the stories include references to the Wounded Warrior Project. Some of the vets in the stories, are using its services, some volunteering, some both.

It’s a terrific project and also a terrific thing that the creators of this anthology are doing with this book. But what about the book itself?

All of the authors of the individual stories are well-known for their military romance, and all of the novellas are part of their ongoing series. In the case of Lea Griffith’s War Games, Kate SeRine’s Torn and Julie Ann Walker’s Hot as Hell, the stories here are introducing their new series.

And even though the other stories are in the middle, or in the case of Suzanne Brockmann’s Home Fire Inferno, deeply into their series, the stories stand alone. It probably helps that all of these stories are novella length, so the author’s have plenty of time to establish their characters and setting.

Howsomever, in reading the collection there was something that bothered me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good military romance, but there’s an accidental theme that runs through too many of the stories. Out of 8 stories, 3 feature a heroine who is being stalked and needs her military man to rescue her from her violent and escalating stalker.

In all of the cases, the stalkers are so clever and organized that they leave no clues behind and the police are unable to help the victim, even when the stalker’s identity is known. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen (all too often) in real life, but this is fiction. Even though the individual stories were good, there was too much of this theme for my tastes. I don’t like to see my heroines as victims, especially not over and over.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

Of the stories that were not about stalker victims in need of rescue, my favorites were Julie Ann Walker’s Hot as Hell, War Games by Lea Griffith, and of course NSDQ by M.L. Buchman.

In Hot as Hell, our heroine is an administrative assistant at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. Harper is also trying to ignore the chemistry that was sparked in her one-night-stand with SEAL Mark. His unit is supposed to be guarding the embassy from a prospective attack, but after weeks of nothing happening, they’ve temporarily been sent to another assignment. And Harper has been ignoring his calls, pretending that she can’t bear the thought of being involved with a military man.

When the embassy is overrun by terrorists, Mark is the first person Harper calls. His unit is supposed to be back that day, and Harper needs a hero. Bad.

What I loved about this story is that Harper rescues herself first. As soon as she sees the gunfire, she does what she is supposed to do and gets herself into the embassy “panic room” in a nerve-wracking game of hide-and-seek, with her life as the prize if she doesn’t hide. Not that she doesn’t need Mark and his team to clear the embassy, but she might not be there to rescue if she hadn’t kept a clear head.

And not that the adrenaline rush of the danger and Mark riding to the rescue doesn’t finally melt all of Harper’s resistance to the man she already loves.

The heroine in War Games is also every bit as badass, in her completely different way, as her hero. Vivi is a CIA Cyber Spook, and she has arrived at Leavenworth to rescue her brother’s best friend, Navy SEAL Rook Granger. Because the last thing that her brother said to her before he died was that Rook was being framed, and that the op that killed their team was a set up from the get go.

It’s not an easy rescue. Rook isn’t just in solitary confinement, he’s chained to his cell to keep him from leaving. The solitary is to keep him from talking. Whatever went wrong on that last op, there are too many low people in high places who want to make sure that the truth never gets out. And that Rook doesn’t either.

But Vivi brings down all the security, and its backups and its backups’ backups, to pay her brother back one last time. As Vivi and Rook cross the country, both pursuing and being pursued by people who are tracking their every move and are one step ahead every moment, they discover that they can only trust each other with a secret that can topple governments. And that they can finally trust each other with the hearts they both believed were dead.

Like Harper in Hot as Hell, Vivi is a heroine who takes care of herself. She isn’t as physically intimidating as Rook. In fact, she isn’t physically intimidating at all. But she can, and will, mess with people’s minds, their systems, and their credit reports as needed to get the job done.

In today’s world, fists aren’t the only way to beat someone to a pulp.

160th_SOAR_Distinctive_Unit_InsigniaAnd last but not least, a novella in M.L. Buchman’s Night Stalkers series, NSDQ. NSDQ is the Night Stalkers’ motto: Night Stalkers Don’t Quit. Lois Lang has to tell herself those words every single day, as the ace chopper pilot is learning to live with a career ending injury. On a rescue mission, her chopper was hit with a full load of crew and wounded. With one engine down, the only way to keep her crew and passengers alive during the oncoming crash was to roll her bird so that it landed pilot side down. Everybody lived, but Lois lost one leg below the knee.

She’s a heroine, but she’s also certain that the Army will invalid her out of the only job she’s ever loved, or even wanted.

Lois Lang, named for two of Superman’s loves, needs to find her very own Clark Kent to see that not only can she have a good life with her injury, but that she still has a lot to offer the Army and even SOAR. Because heroines aren’t made of legs, they are made of heart.

This story was especially sweet, and also just a bit different. In this one, it’s a woman warrior who is wounded and needs to find a way to recover her life, her purpose and her dignity. Even Superwoman needs someone to lean on now and again. The role reversal in the story made this one especially poignant.

Also, I just plain love this series.

Escape Rating B: That’s for the book as a whole. There were too many “stalker rescue” stories for my personal taste, especially since those are three of the first five stories. By the middle of the third, I was praying not to visit that theme again. I prefer a relationship of equals in contemporary romance, and those weren’t it.

A couple of the other stories just didn’t do much for me, but over my personal pet peeves rather than anything wrong with the story. In any collection, there are always a few stories that aren’t my cuppa. That’s kind of the point in a way, that everyone gets a sampling, and hopefully finds something they like.

I liked both the Walker and Griffith stories so much that I will be looking for the upcoming books in those series, and I always grab the Night Stalkers as soon as they appear in NetGalley. I’m still very happy that I followed that series from the beginning.

And I would happily give Hot as Hell by Julie Ann Walker, War Games by Lea Griffith and NSDQ by M.L. Buchman “A Grades” if they were published separately.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Memorial Day 2014

The U.S. Air Force Band plays the national anthem during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington
The U.S. Air Force Band plays the national anthem during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington

For those in the U.S., I hope you are having a terrific Memorial Day Weekend. For those outside the U.S., remember us when you have a Bank Holiday and we don’t.

Memorial Day began in the U.S. as a holiday to remember those who had died in the Civil War, from both sides of the conflict. It was later extended to honor all soldiers who have died while in the military, regardless of which conflict cost them their lives.

Memorial Day 2013

Graves at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day
Gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day weekend

This is the day we celebrate it, even though the original holiday is a few days from now.

Title 36 of the United States Code enshrines, not just the date, but also the meaning of the holiday and some instructions about the manner in which the holiday is supposed to be celebrated.

Memorial Day commemorates the brave men and women who have fallen while wearing the uniforms of the United States. While we remember, part of those “instructions” written into the law are to take time out to pray, in whatever manner each of us does so, to pray for permanent peace.

Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day, and it began in honor of the soldiers who died on both sides of the Civil War.

It’s the most painful trivia question ever: “What war caused the most American casualties?” In spite of technology-based killing machines, the answer is still the U.S. Civil War.

Union and Confederate Dead Gettysburg
Union and Confederate dead, Gettysburg Battlefield, PA

Because both sides were us.

Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day in the United States is a holiday that is intended to honor those who have fallen in the service of the United States while wearing the uniform of one of its Armed Forces. The Wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, pictured above, commemorates that fact starkly, listing the names of those who fell.

M*A*S*H, although it was set in Korea was commenting about Vietnam. But the line I remember best is when it took one of its early turns for the serious from the funny. When in a very bleak moment after hours of exhausting meatball surgery, Colonel Blake told Hawkeye, “Rule number one is young men die. Rule number two is doctors can’t change rule number one.”

The following poem is one I found in a thin, stained, stapled, well, calling it a paperback dignifies it considerably, from high-school. Variations of it still can be found on the net, all attributed to that great poet, Anonymous. Set at the time of the Vietnam War, it still chills.

But You Didn’t
Remember the time you let me borrow
Your new car and I smashed the fender?
I thought you’d kill me
But you didn’t
And remember the time I spilled my
Coke
On your new rug?
I thought you’d kill me
But you didn’t
Remember the time I flirted with the guys
to make you jealous?
I thought you’d drop me
But you didn’t
And the time you brought me to the beach
And you said it would rain?
And it did
I thought you’d scream I told you so
But you didn’t

I wanted to make all these things
Up to you
When you came home from Viet Nam
But you didn’t

The picture at the top of the post is from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and is part of Wikimedia Commons. The photographer is Hu Totya and the photo is used with permission.