I stopped by Fort Logan National Cemetery today to visit my dad and pay my respects to him and many others interred at this sacred place. Remember those who have served this great nation and are no longer with their families this season. Miss you, Pa!
Today’s 75th anniversary of D-Day had me harkening back to this event in 1995 when I was honored to have been part of an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and its air wing were tasked with taking part in the ceremonies at Pearl Harbor. As part of that, we transported a number of old warbirds, some of which had seen service during WWII.
Best of all, when we arrived on station off the coast of Hawaii, the vintage planes took off from the deck of the carrier! To my knowledge, this was the only such event that has done this – it was extraordinary!
The pics are scans from old negatives and need some work but I wanted to post them today given the significance of the date.
Our nation is truly blessed and it is humbling to consider what the Greatest Generation accomplished.
I would normally visit Fort Logan National Cemetery today but it wasn’t quite in the cards this year. Nevertheless, I made sure to respect the true meaning of Memorial Day and instead visited the Thornton Veterans Memorial.
From the memorial for the fallen to the names on the bricks that pave the walkways to ‘Grace’ releasing a dove, it is a beautiful place to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this great nation. We shall never forget!
“And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier’s tomb, and beauty weeps the brave.” ~Joseph Drake
Not the usual type of “bird” you see me photograph, eh?
Wildfires are an unfortunate fact of life in the west during the summer and the brave men and women that battle the blazes have to hone their skills before they join the fight. In recent days, the military has been practicing at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. The UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were picking up water from one lake and then dropping it near another.
Having served many years in the Navy on an aircraft carrier, aviation and military photography doesn’t normally appeal to me but as those years move further into the past, I have to admit once again getting a bit excited seeing them in action.
I flew on a number of different military planes and helicopters, including once on an SH-60, the Navy’s variant of the Blackhawk, dubbed the Seahawk. Truly an impressive aircraft.
I stopped by Fort Logan National Cemetery this past weekend to visit my dad and a few other of our nation’s heroes. He – and all of them – are sorely missed and the holidays aren’t quite the same without them.
Wreaths Across America and hundreds of volunteers place wreaths at thousands of graves at Fort Logan and other national cemeteries across the nation before Christmas each year. This very special program’s mission is to, “Remember our fallen U.S. veterans. Honor those who serve. Teach your children the value of freedom.”
The hallowed ground of these cemeteries are transformed into a beautiful and respectful scene, fitting for the holidays. For families like mine, who have loved ones interred there, it is a meaningful and emotional thing to see.
We sponsor the wreath for my dad’s site and some random others and next year, I would encourage you to do the same. Please, honor those who served and are no longer with us and say a prayer for them and their families during this blessed season.
Happy Veterans Day to all who have served.
On Saturday I stopped by Fort Logan National Cemetery to pay my respects to my dad and the thousands of other heroes that have served this great nation and are laid to rest there.
Memorial Day is, of course, not a day for all of those interred there. This most auspicious holiday is for honoring those who gave the last full measure of devotion, sacrificing their lives in service to this nation. Going there is always an emotional and humbling experience. This scene made it more so.
A man stood, motionless, staring down at one of the markers, deep in his thoughts. Was it a father? A brother? A fallen shipmate? No matter who it was, he was far more than just a marble stone. He was one of the few that had the courage to put on that uniform and stand the line against those that would harm this nation.
Our nation owes an unpayable debt of gratitude to them and their families. Take time to remember them today and give thanks for what they have done.
Years ago I had a blog where I shared my thoughts on a number of topics, the military and veterans being prominent features. I was going through that site today and came across this posting from Veterans Day 2009. It seems to fit as well now as it did then and want to re-share it here.
Why say thank you on Veterans Day?
We set aside Veterans Day to say ‘thank you’ to our veterans for their service and for the sacrifices they have made for us and our great nation. Sometimes though, we forget exactly what veterans have done to deserve these thanks.
Veterans have served in God-forsaken hellholes from one end of the earth to the other. They have roasted in 120+ degree heat in the Middle East, been drenched by unending rain in the jungles of Vietnam, and suffered frostbite in the bitter cold of the Ardennes Forest.
They have stood in lines dozens deep to eat, to see a doctor and even to use the bathroom. They have labored for days with little or no sleep. Men and women have launched dozens of bomb-laden aircraft from the deck of aircraft carriers in a matter of hours, stood watch over the DMZ in Korea where a state of war still exists and fought bloody battles for their very lives that lasted for days.
Sailors go months without seeing land, longing for the simple pleasure of setting foot on solid ground again.
Airmen load bombs well-aware of the harm they may cause but comforted by the knowledge their cause is just.
Soldiers spend weeks on missions where their only hot meal is an MRE eaten from their helmet, longing for some of their wife’s home cooking.
Coastguardsmen stand watch from the deck of a ship protecting a homeland unaware of the dangers lurking offshore.
Marines assault a beachhead running for their lives while watching their friends fall around them.
Veterans have been separated from their friends and families for weeks, months and years. They have missed birthdays, anniversaries, and the birth of their own children. They have missed Christmas, the 4th of July, football games and even Veterans Day.
Our veterans have called home from a far off land and heard about the broken washer and the car that won’t start and been helpless to help their loved ones back home. They have gotten the Red Cross message telling them about their dad dying unexpectedly and felt the anguish of having to choose between going home to honor him or staying in the field to fight with their comrades. They have received ‘Dear John’ letters while on the other side of the world, crushing the one piece of home they were clinging to.
Veterans have returned home to a country which is foreign to them, a place that has seemingly moved on while they were stuck in time. They have found children that hardly recognize them, spouses that grew accustomed to them not being around and friends and family that don’t understand them and cannot fathom what they have seen and done.
Some have returned home to tickertape parades and adoring crowds. Others returned home only to be spat on and called despicable names. Many return to no acknowledgement of what they have accomplished, no one there to simply say ‘welcome home.’
Veterans have struggled to return to a normal life, not even knowing what ‘normal’ is anymore. Veterans throw themselves into their new lives with the same sense of honor, pride and dedication they served the country with. Others still stand on a street corner and sleep under a bridge just looking for a helping hand while battling the demons that haunt their minds. They go to Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts across the country in an effort to recapture some of the comradeship that was lost when they left the service.
They bear the scars of their service, some visible, some not.
They have prosthetic legs to replace the ones blown off by an IED and a six inch scar across their belly where a German knife was plunged into it. Some walk with a limp from a shattered ankle, can’t move an arm that is paralyzed or struggle to hear their grandchildren because of a bomb that exploded next to them ruining their hearing.
Veterans stand at attention and cry when the Star Spangled Banner is played, knowing the words by heart and the true meaning behind them. Others though cannot watch fireworks on the 4th of July because the sight and sound frightens them and brings back memories they fight to bury and forget.
They break down when remembering holding their friend as he gasped his last breath on the battlefield. They pray to God asking that He just make the images of the horrors they witnessed go away but knowing that they will return when they close their eyes.
When you think about what you are saying ‘thank you’ for, perhaps just think about some of these things that our veterans have done. That simple act of saying ‘thank you’ takes on renewed meaning for you and will mean more to a veteran than he can ever say.
God bless you all, God bless the United States of America and God bless our veterans!
It is hard to believe it has been sixteen years since that fateful day. September 11, 2001. That date is forever emblazoned in my memory and in the hearts of all good Americans.
Like few other dates in our history, we can all remember exactly where we were when we learned of the attacks and recall in vivid detail the horror that followed. 2,977 people were killed that day and thousands more have perished since then in the War on Terror as we sought justice across the globe and fought to ensure no one could ever harm our nation as they did that day.
While we shed tears for those that died that day and since, we should also remember the other, too easily forgotten scenes that day.
The firemen and police officers who rushed to the scene and helped those in need, many sacrificing their own lives in the process. The office workers who helped their friends and co-workers down dozens and dozens of flights of stairs. The steel workers who helped to search the rubble of the buildings their fathers had built. The heroes on United Flight 93 who with the simple words, “Let’s roll,” battled their hijackers and ultimately sacrificed their own lives to save countless others on the ground. The soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who dragged their compatriot’s bodies from the rubble of the Pentagon.
Certainly, September 11, 2001 will be remembered as one of the saddest days in our history but it is my sincerest wish that it will also be remembered as one of this country’s proudest. We stood together then, as the truly United States of America.
Perhaps now, when we seem so divided, it would be wise to step back and remember how on that day and the immediate days that follow, we were not left, not right, not black, not white. We were Americans. Indeed, we still are. Remember that and honor the fallen.
I visit a few gravesites at Fort Logan National Cemetery when I go. Some people I knew, some are friends and family of people I knew. Yesterday, I stopped by and said hello to a shipmate, one you may have heard of.
Petty Officer Danny Dietz was a man that stood above others. Raised in Littleton, Colorado, he would go on to become a Navy SEAL and serve with distinction and honor. It was in the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan on June 28, 2005 that Danny’s journey would come to an end.
In a battle immortalized in the movie, Lone Survivor, he was shot in the neck and yet he kept fighting – fighting for his teammates. He would fall back with them, leap off a precipice and continue the fight, providing covering fire until he received a fatal shot.
A truly extraordinary man, one who fought and died for something greater than himself. My visit was humbling and shook me. I thank God for men and women like him. For his valiant action, Gunner’s Mate Second Class Dietz received the Navy Cross.