Personal note: Some pieces are harder to write than others. This one...this one had to be done "right." Perhaps it's part of the process of growing "older," perhaps it's because I was trained to be a soldier, a warrior, and I find myself not IN uniform doing what I was trained to do over 20 years ago, perhaps there are other factors involved internally, I'm not sure, but as I DO grow older, and because of my contacts both online and off, interactions with such a wide variety and assortment of people, I find myself with a deeper and growing kinship with my brother and sister veterans with each passing year. Ergo, this is a subject that hits me very close to home, personally, thus the desire and need to say exactly what needs to be said.
I hope I have done my brothers and sisters justice.
A heartfelt salute to you all.
Prefacing my piece will be the message that inspired me to write this. It was sent to WUA and is of particular interest to me.
S., I would really appreciate it if you could post this on your site. It is for a good cause as you will see when you read it.
Most of us who read this blog are grateful for the many men and women who currently serve our country. They are heros, everyone of them. We also are grateful for the many men and women who have worn the uniform in prior years. Whether it was a time of conflict or a time of peace. They were there for us and they kept us safe.
I know that many of you are like me. When I see one of our active duty military I will shake their hand and thank them for there service and, if I see them at a restaurant, their bill goes to me. I never fail to express my appreciation for a fellow Veteran's service with a thank you.
There are some Veterans who will never hear that thank you. They, in fact may never have a proper burial. They are the missing. Not POWs or MIAs. They are Veterans who are missing in America. Their unclaimed cremains are sitting on a shelf somewhere waiting for someone to take action.
From the "Missing in America Project" Site
"You served your country through a war, or through peacetime. You expected to receive a military burial, recognition by our government of your commitment to our great country. You expected to have honor and respect paid to you as a result of your service to our great country. Instead, you reside on a shelf in a mortuary or a storage facility at a crematorium."
Well, I invite you to visit "Missing in America Project" website. Take a look around and see for yourself the wonderful work they are doing.
Chris Brocksmith, a fellow PGR member told me "What we do for the PGR is from the depth of our heart. What the MIAP does is from the depth of ones soul."
Patriot Guard Riders
Standing For Those
Who Stood For Us
It's funny how one simple little word can have such powerful impact upon people.
For children in school, it's a location on a map, a country across the Pacific located in Southeast Asia where there was a war once that America was involved in.
For others, it's a place that they know about because they had family members there all those years ago, and they felt the effects of that war through them.
For some, it's a place they went to and learned what hell on earth was, coming home forever affected, forever changed, and forever remembering the smell of the jungles, the smell of gunpowder, of rot, of decay, the symphony of insanity played out by men in combat. Some didn't come home. Some didn't come home alive. Most did come home, but some of them never really left in their minds...
Don't think I'm trying to paint a picture of all Vietnam vets as mentally unstable, unable to adjust and cope, unable to leave Southeast Asia behind them, I'm not.
Far from it.
There are those, however, who for whatever reason, whatever circumstance, fell by the wayside in the years after their return from the Nam. A great many of them are still out there today. And a great many of them pass on, unnoticed, from this life, with no one knowing or realizing the tremendous role that they played in the history of our nation.
Vietnam was a learning experience for us as a nation, or at least it should have been. I often think that there are those out there who missed the lesson.
That, however, is the topic for other discussions, ongoing and continuing, as we pursue other conflicts around the world that are ongoing.
This one is for another reason. This one is to remind us that there was one lesson we DID learn in Vietnam that we have to apply here, on the home front, as well as on the field of battle. That lesson is this, "no man left behind." It's a lesson we need to practice here at home, because there is a growing number of homeless vets who are dying and being cremated, with their ashes being stored awaiting someone to claim them for interment. Connecticut is one state that is taking measures to make sure that this growing situation is being resolved.
The state's veterans cemetery in Middletown is a final resting place for thousands of Connecticut's war heroes. Sadly, some veterans who should be buried here are not.
"I think the families had the opportunity to do the right thing by these veterans and for whatever reason it didn't happen," said Keith Soileau, director of the Missing in America Project in Connecticut.
Soileau joined the Veterans' Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz in announcing a first of its kind partnership.
Missing in America is an organization that has undertaken the tremendous task of making sure that the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans receive the proper honor and respect due to them by locating and identifying their remains and ensuring that they have a final resting place.
It's a daunting task, to be sure, that will involve a lot of time and a lot of research, and will be coordinated with such agencies as the American Legion, Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees, local funeral homes, national and state veteran organizations and administration agencies, and state and national veteran cemetery administrations, just to list a few of the organizations and agencies that will be involved. There will, of course, be strict adherence to local, state, and national laws for the identification, claiming of, and interring of unclaimed remains.
But what greater honor can we bestow upon the forgotten veterans of this nation who have passed on? What greater service can be undertaken to honor those who have, for whatever reason, slipped off the grid and have been forgotten in death?
It is a debt of gratitude that is owed to our forgotten brothers and sisters, a labor of love, that guides this project. Some may have gone missing, but there are those searching for them to ensure that they rest in peace, with honor and dignity.
Once and Always, an American Fighting Man