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Special Memorial Day Edition
Today I write not of sleep disorders but rather about Memorial Day, war, peace, family, and the world.
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May 30, 2011
“I know war as few other men...know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method of settling international disputes.” —General Douglas MacArthur
In Today's Chat:
Memorial Day: A Time to Reflect and Remember
Today, May 30, is Memorial Day here in the United States. It's a time when We The People honor those who have served and sacrificed for our country as members of the military.
This holiday...and the tradition of decorating the graves of those who have fallen in battle...first became a national event on May 30, 1868. It was a time to pay respect to the Union and Confederate soldiers who had fought and died during the bloody U.S. Civil War, 1861-1865.
This day was originally called Decoration Day, and that's certainly the case for where I live in Georgia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Every year, just before Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of short white crosses are placed in long snake-like lines along the roads leading into the small town. Each cross bears the name of a man or woman who served in various branches of the military during, unfortunately, far too many wars. And next to each cross flutters a small American flag.
As I drove into town yesterday, I could not help but reflect on all those who have served during war and peace. My thoughts turned to my own family. I don't know the names of those in my family who served during the Civil War.
I do know though that one of my grandfathers was in the U.S. Navy during World War I. My other grandfather was in the United States Army, also during World War I.
My father was a World War II fighter pilot in China
My father, Lieutenant and then Captain Jim Silver, was a P-40 Warhawk and P-51 Mustang fighter pilot during World War II. On October 7, 1944, while flying a strafing mission along the Fen River near Fenyang, China, his Curtis P-40 Warhawk was hit by Japanese gunfire.
Though the plane was badly shot up, all hydraulic fluid drained out, and unable to control his wing flaps and speed, my father said he remained “calm and cool” and stayed with the P-40 rather than bail out.
Attempting to belly land the plane, but going way too fast, he smacked into the only tree in that area of North China. My father described it as “WHAP!! The crash was very rough. I was knocked silly,” he said.
He had crashed in a place where no white man had been for 25 years, not since General Stilwell covered the area in the 1920s.
Now, as Dad approaches his 88th birthday, he still wears the scar on his forehead from where his head smashed into the plane's gunsight when he crashed.
Chinese villagers helped my father evade capture by the Japanese by hiding him in fields full of teepee-like structures made of corn stalks.
For two weeks—behind Japanese lines, sleep deprived, wearing peasant clothing and a big straw hat—he traveled by foot, sedan chair (a chair carried on poles by two people), mule, and then truck as he worked his way back to his base and squadron at the city of Sian (now Xi'an).
Pretty scary stuff for a young man of 20.
You can read about my father, his buddy, Lieutenant Tom Cribbs, and others in the book Wing To Wing, Air Combat in China, 1943-1945, by Carl Molesworth.
There are others in my family who have served...
Uncle John was in the United States Army during the Korean War years.
My late brother Tom was a non-commissioned officer who fought with the 101st Airborne Division in the jungles of Vietnam.
Brother-in-law Bill was also in Vietnam as part of the Military Police.
And nephew Chris was in the United States Marine Corps.
As I think of all this, and how grateful I am for those who serve their countries, I wonder when war will be completely abolished from this pale blue world of ours. Sadly, perhaps never.
Yet it strikes me how small the world has become. And how fragile.
I look at my little sleep disorders website and I see people visit this site from 84 different countries. All friends I like to think. All wanting the information on sleep disorders that I provide. All looking for a better way to live.
I also know that two of my dearest friends are from Iran and now living here in the United States.
So today, as we honor those in our military, I also hope all of us around the world will simply take a moment to think about how each life is precious. About how the way we live and treat each other can in some small way make this world a better place...
A place where war is finally replaced by peace
Because as Basil O'Connor, former Chairman and President of the American Red Cross wrote: “The world cannot continue to wage war like physical giants and to seek peace like intellectual pygmies.”
With that my friend, wherever you are in this world, I wish you goodwill and peace on this Memorial Day. Thanks for reading and for visiting
If you would like to comment on what I have written today, just reply to this ezine and give me your thoughts.
For now, I'm outta' here. Life is a journey. Keep exploring.
We'll chat soon.
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Sleep & Health Writer
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