Memorial Day is the day that we stop, just for a moment, and honor those men and women that have made the ultimate sacrifice for us to enjoy the freedoms that we have today and to remember those that have passed during the past year.
This Memorial Day will be a quiet day of remembrances across the country due to the “Stay Home – Stay Safe” requirements still being enforced in many communities.
The Veterans Business Association’s annual Memorial Day Breakfast has also been cancelled due to these restrictions. In past years, we have brought together friends and associates as we honored the men and women from Texas from the World Wars. We have honored those from Texans lost the during the Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have also honored the Gold Star Families and the Blue Star Families for their sacrifices in carrying the burdens of losing loved ones and caring for those that came home with the visible and invisible wounds of war. At our last Memorial Day Breakfast, we honored all of our local heroes, our First Responders, who lost their lives protecting us every day.
There have been names added to the Fort Bliss Memorial, but we will have to wait to honor their memories until a later time. For now, we will have to remember alone without the public ceremonies.
For me, I remember my uncle whose name I carry – HOWARD “BUDDY” RYAN – the only son of Tom and Mae Ryan, lost over the Mediterranean Sea. A Lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corps, flying B-17 Bombers out of Africa before the invasions of Sicily and Italy. Badly damaged, the crew was forced to ditch the plane on the return flight. Other aircraft in the squadron saw the crew successfully leave the aircraft and were in rafts. Air-Sea rescue was delayed due to an oncoming storm. The crew was never found and the Germans and Italians had no record of picking up any fliers in the area.
A young life, like so many others, gone too soon.
I also remember the service of my late Uncle Agis and his younger brother, my father. Uncle Agis volunteered to go. My father had small children and the hope was that he would be able to avoid service. A Harvard College graduate, Agis could have had a commission but instead served in the United States Navy SeaBees in the Pacific. He saw things no one should ever be forced to see and hear as the inhumanity of man was on full display. My father was called up later in the war and had not completed training by the time the war ended, and yet, he served.
Growing up as a child in New England, I was surrounded by Veterans of World War 2 and Korea. I even had the unique opportunity to meet a Veteran of the Spanish-American War, who served with Teddy Roosevelt in Cuba. There was a string of ribbons displayed on the mantle over his fireplace. The climb up San Juan Hill was under blistering fire from entrenched Spanish forces – there was no cavalry charge – most of the horses were still being unloaded. He was especially proud of the shiny ribbon at the end – “World’s Greatest Liar” – we all had a laugh.
I saw five soldiers die on active duty during my three tours in Europe. All were tragic, all were senseless. I remember them all. During the Cold War, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines served on every Sea and on every continent. Many came home after their service, many did not. The Cold War was not really a war. There were no homecoming parades. For those lost, there were no ribbons awarded for valor, just a letter, their belongings returned, and a folded flag from a grateful nation.
On this quiet Memorial Day 2020, I encourage everyone to make this a true day of remembrances across the country. Post your memories of loved ones who served and have passed on. Tell their stories of service to our country and keep their memories alive for future generations.