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KEEPING PROMISES

It’s the story of a friendship forged during one of the worst battles of World War II, and a promise made almost 60 years ago, a promise that was finally kept Thursday, Aug. 2, 2001. HAROLD HUGGINS, a veteran of 10 major campaigns in World War II and the last survivor of his battalion, traveled halfway across the country by train on one last mission in memory of his best buddy.

"I had this on my mind for 57 years, trying to locate his sister and loved ones out there in California," says Huggins. "Part of him lives in me."

Huggins, from Albany, Ill., and Mack McClain from Marysville, Calif., were best friends in the army. They wound up together at Anzio Beach, Italy, scene of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Mack had a premonition that he wouldn’t make it out of there alive, so he gave Harold some mementos, a belt, some photos, and said: "’Give this to my sister, tell her that I love her,’ Huggins recalls. ’You can even give her a kiss.’"

Harold promised if anything happened to Mack he would do what was asked. One day later, Mack was killed in an artillery barrage. After the war, Harold looked for Mack’s sister but he never found her until Harold’s daughter sent out e-mails to various veterans groups. Some California vets found Mack’s sister, Grace, whose last name changed when she married.

"We have always hoped and prayed that we would meet somebody that would tell us about Mack," says Grace.

Thursday, Aug. 2nd, at the place where his buddy’s name is engraved in marble at the veterans memorial in Marysville, Calif., Harold Huggins kept that promise he made 57 years ago, meeting Mack’s sister for the very first time and giving her that kiss that Mack asked Harold to deliver, turning over those mementos from his fallen friend.

SOURCE: Steve Shepherd.

 
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Randy Aly
 
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Most of us have experienced what happens to motorists when one of those huge graders goes to work on a highway repair job. when the machine is operating on a busy road, traffic is halted and the cars lined up in opposite directions are allowed to proceed alternately. A veteran operator of one of those big machines decided one day to try to relieve the tension that inevitably results from such a traffic backup. Consequently on both the front and rear of his grader a sign now appears, declaring, "The Road to Happiness is Almost Always Under Construction."

 
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Warren Lamb
 
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Remarks by President Bush
At Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Day Commemoration
Arlington National Cemetery
May 31, 2004

This morning I had the honor of placing a wreath before the Tomb of the Unknowns. This custom is observed every Memorial Day on behalf of the American people as a mark of gratitude and respect.

And when this ceremony is concluded, and all of us have gone on our way, the Honor Guard will keep watch over the Tomb. Every hour of every day, on the coldest nights, in the hardest rain, there is a sentinel of the 3rd U.S. Infantry standing guard. The soldiers entrusted with that duty count it a privilege. And, today, as we reflect on the men and women who have died in the defense of America, all of us count it a privilege to be citizens of the country they served.

In the military tradition, no one is left behind on the field of battle. And our nation is determined to account for all of the missing. The same spirit can be seen in the respect we show to each life laid down for this nation. We receive them in sorrow, and we take them to an honored place to rest. At this and other cemeteries across our country, and in cemeteries abroad where heroes fell, America acknowledges a debt that is beyond our power to repay.

This weekend, we dedicated the World War II Memorial, which will stand forever as a tribute to the generation that fought that war and the more than 400,000 Americans who fell. Some here today can turn their minds back across 60 years and see the face of a buddy who never made it home. You are veterans who have not forgotten your comrades. And America will always honor the achievements and the character of your brave generation.

Through our history, America has gone to war reluctantly, because we have known the costs of war. And the war on terror we’re fighting today has brought great costs of its own. Since the hour this nation was attacked, we have seen the character of the men and women who wear our country’s uniform. In places like Kabul and Kandahar, in Mosul and Baghdad, we have seen their decency and their brave spirit. Because of their fierce courage, America is safer, two terror regimes are gone forever, and more than 50 million souls now live in freedom.

Those who have fought these battles and served this cause can be proud of all they have achieved. And these veterans of battle will carry with them for all their days the memory of the ones who did not live to be called veterans. They will remember young soldiers like Captain Joshua Byers, a West Point man born in South Carolina who died in Iraq. When this son of missionaries was given command of a 120-man combat unit, he wrote this to his parents: "I will give the men everything I have to give. I love them already, just because they’re mine. I
pray, with all my heart, that I will be able to take every single one of them home safe when we finish our mission here."

Sergeant Major Michael Stack, who was laid to rest at Arlington, wore the uniform for 28 years and is remembered as a soldier’s soldier. The sergeant major must have been quite a guy. When he was a young platoon sergeant, the recruits gave him a nickname: No Slack Billy Jack Stack. By all accounts, he was the kind of man you want in charge of a tough situation. And by the account of his mother, he finished his goodbyes with these words:
"Mom, I’m going because I believe in what I am doing. And if I don’t come back, we will meet in a better place."

Those who risked their lives on our behalf are often very clear about what matters most in their own lives, and they tell it to those they love. Master Sergeant Kelly Hornbeck, of the Special Forces, was killed in action last January, south of Samarra. To his parents back in Fort Worth, Texas, he wrote this: "I am not afraid, and neither should either of you be -- For I trust in my God and my training, two powerful forces that cannot be fully measured."

After Private First Class Jesse Givens, of Springfield, Missouri was lost last May, his family received a letter he had written to them in the event of his death. He wrote this to his son, Dakota: "You’ve taught me that life isn’t so serious, and sometimes you just have to play. You have a big, beautiful heart. Through your life, you need to keep it open and follow it. I will always be there in our park when you dream, so we can play." To his wife, Melissa, Private Givens wrote, "Do me a favor after you tuck the children in -- give them hugs and kisses from me. Go outside and look at the stars and count them. Don’t forget to smile." This is the quality of the people in our uniform.

And this is the loss to our nation. Markers on these hills record the names of more than 280,000 men and women. Each was once or still is the most important person in someone’s life. With each loss in war, the world changed forever for the family and friends left behind. Each loss left others to go on, counting the years of separation, and living in the hope of reunion.

Although the burden of grief can become easier to bear, always there is the memory of another time, and the feeling of sadness over an unfinished life. Yet, the completeness of a life is not measured in length only. It is measured in the deeds and commitments that give a life its purpose. And the commitment of these lives was clear to all: They defended our nation, they liberated the oppressed, they served the cause of peace. And all Americans who have known the loss and sadness of war, whether recently or long ago, can know this: The person they love and missed is honored and remembered by the United States of America.

May God bless our country.

 
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Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg--or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can’t tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She--or he--is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another--or didn’t come back at all.

He is the Quantico drill instructor that has never seen combat--but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs.

He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor die unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket--palsied now and aggravatingly slow--who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being, a person who offered some of his life’s most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each...

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Writing in a recent issue of Focus on the Family magazine author Stu Weber illustrates the need for a Christian "buddy" to help us survive the tough times.
In 1967 a grizzled old noncom at Fort Benning, Ga. taught [the soul-buttressing impact of "mutual mentoring"] ... to a formation of ramrod-straight troops: "Never go into battle alone!"
The war in Vietnam was building to its peak, and one stop for young army officers was the U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning. The venerable, steely-eyed veteran told us the next nine weeks would test out mettle as it had never been tested.
The sergeant said many wouldn’t make the grade--it was just too tough. (Turned out he was right. Of 287 in the formation that day, only 110 finished the nine weeks.)
I can still hear that raspy voice cutting through the morning humidity like a serrated blade. "We are here to save your lives," he preached. "We’re going to see to it that you overcome all your natural fears--especially of height and water. We’re going to show you just how much incredible stress the human mind and body can endure. And when we’re finished with you, you will be the U.S. Army’s best. You will not only survive in combat, you will accomplish your mission!"
Then, before he dismissed the formation, the hardened Ranger sergeant announced our first assignment. We’d steeled ourselves for something really tough -- running 10 miles in full battle gear or rappelling down a sheer cliff. So the noncoms first order caught us off guard.
He told us to find a buddy. Some of us would have preferred the cliff. "This is step one," he growled. "You need to find yourself a Ranger buddy. You will stick together. You will never leave each other. You will encourage each other, and, as necessary, you will carry each other.
It was the Army’s way of saying, "Difficult assignments require a friend. Together is better. You need someone to help you accomplish the tough course ahead."

Stu Weber, "Some One to Lean On" Focus on the Family Magazine (June 1996).

 
Contributed By:
Wade  Hughes, Sr
 
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Flag Folding & The Meaning of Each Fold!
Unknown
I guess this settles the "One Nation Under God" debate once and for all.
Do you know that at military funerals, the 21 gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776?
Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention correctly folding the American flag 13 times?
You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!

The 1st fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The 2nd fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The 4th fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

The 5th fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decaur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.

The 6th fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

The 7th fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.

The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense
of our country since they were first born.

The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews’ eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity
and glorifies, in the Christians’ eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely
folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of
our nation’s motto, "In God We Trust."
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in,
it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever
reminding us of the soldiers who served under
General George Washington, and the Sailors
and Marines who served under Captain John
Paul Jones, who were followed by their
comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces
of the United States, preserving for us the rights,
privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.
There are some traditions and ways of doing
things that have deep meaning. In the future,
you’ll see flags folded and now you will know why.
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2002: a busy year for those who help in times of disaster

With barely two weeks left in the year, only six of the 50 states have
not needed what the American Red Cross calls a large-scale disaster
response, a new report says. The agency says, however, that 93 percent
of its responses are to house fires. The top five Red Cross responses
for 2002, based on severity of damage and size of area affected, with
the cost (in millions) of providing shelter, meals, crisis counseling,
medical attention, financial help, and other services to needy families:

Hurricane Lili/tropical storm Isidore (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama)
$15.8 million
Texas floods/tornadoes 13.5
Western wildfires (Arizona, Colorado, California, Oregon) 8.1 Veterans Day tornadoes (Ala-bama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee,
Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania) 3.7
Typhoon Chataan (Guam) 5.4

SOURCE: US Newswire. CITATION: 12/17/02 News Headlines from The Christian Science Monitor

 
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MEMORIAL DAY, A TIME FOR HEALING

Memorial Day, perhaps more than any other holiday, was born of human necessity. Deep inside all of us lies a fundamental desire to make sense of life and our place in it and the world. What we have been given, what we will do with it and what we will pass to the next generation is all part of an unfolding history, a continuum that links one soul to another.

Abraham Lincoln pondered these thoughts in the late fall of 1863. His darkest fear was that he might well be the last president of the United States, a nation embroiled in the self-destruction of what he described as "a great civil war..testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure." He began his remarks with those words as he stood on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19th of that year.

The minute’s speech that became known as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address turned into what might be called the first observance of Memorial Day. Lincoln’s purpose that day was to dedicate a portion of the battlefield as a cemetery for the thousands of men, both living and dead, who consecrated that soil in the sacrifice of battle. Said Abraham Lincoln: "That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause which they gave the last full measure of devotion...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom..."

The next year, a pleasant Sunday in October of 1864 found a teenage girl, Emma Hunter, gathering flowers in a Boalsburg, Pennsylvania cemetery to place on the grave of her father. He was a surgeon who had died in service to the Union Army in that great Civil War. Nearby, Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer was strewing flowers upon the grave of her son Amos, a private who had fallen on the last day of the battle of Gettysburg. Emma respectfully took a few of her flowers and put them on the grave of Amos. Mrs. Meyer, in turn, laid some of her freshly cut blooms on the grave of Dr. Hunter. Both women felt a lightening of their burdens by this act of honoring each other’s loss, and agreed to meet again the next year. This time they agreed they would also visit the graves of those who had no one left to honor them.

Both Emma Hunter and Elizabeth Meyer returned to the cemetery in Boalsburg on the day they had agreed, Independence Day, July 4, 1865. This time, though, they found themselves joined by nearly all the residents of the town. Dr. George Hall, a clergyman, offered a sermon, and the community joined in decorating every grave in the cemetery with flowers and flags. The custom became an annual event at Boalsburg, and it wasn’t long before neighboring communities established their own "Decoration Day" each spring.

About that same time in 1865, a druggist in Waterloo, New York, Henry C. Welles, began promoting the idea of decorating the graves of Civil War veterans. He gained the support of the Seneca County Clerk, General John B. Murray, and they formed a committee to make wreaths, crosses and bouquets for each veteran’s grave. On May 5, 1866, war veterans marching to martial music led processions to each of three cemeteries, where the graves were decorated and speeches were made by General Murray and local clergymen. The village itself was also decorated with flags at half-mast, evergreen boughs and mourning black streamers.

Also, as the Civil War was coming to a close in the spring of 1865, Women’s Auxiliaries of the North and South moved from providing relief to the families and soldiers on their own sides to joining in efforts to preserve and decorate the graves of both sides. A woman of French extraction and leader of the Virginia women’s movement, Cassandra Oliver Moncure, took responsibility of coordinating the activities of several groups into a combined ceremony on May 30. It is said that she picked that day because it corresponded to the Day of Ashes in France, a solemn day that commemorates the return of the remains of Napoleon Bon...

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Sheila Crowe
 
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There was a news report about an Army veteran named John Crabtree. He had been wounded in Vietnam and was now receiving disability benefits from the government. One day, out of the blue, he received an official notification from the government that he was deceased. Needless to say this was quite a shock to him.
Mr. Crabtree wrote the government a letter stating that he was indeed very much alive and would like to continue receiving his benefits. The letter did no good. He then tried calling the government. (Have you ever tried to call the government? This requires the patience of Job and persistence of Noah!) The phone call didn’t change the situation either. Finally as a last resort the veteran contacted a local television station which ran a human interest story about his plight.
During the interview the reporter asked him, “What do you feel about this whole ordeal? The veteran chuckled and said, Well I feel a little frustrated by it. After all, have you ever tried to prove that you’re alive?

 
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"Let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain."

 
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