Fort Polk Guardian 05-24-2019

Viewpoint 2/ The Guardian , a civilian enter- prise newspaper, is an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army. Contents of the Guardian are not necessarily official views of, or en- dorsed by, the U.S. Government, De- partment of Defense, Department of the Army or Fort Polk. The Guardian is published weekly by the Public Affairs Office, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. Printed circulation is 13,000. Everything advertised in this publication shall be made available for purchase, use or patronage with- out regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation or any other nonmerit factor of the purchaser, user or patron. A confirmed violation of this policy of equal opportunity by an ad- vertiser will result in the refusal to print advertising from that source. All editorial content of the Guardian is prepared, edited, pro- vided and approved by the Public Af- fairs Office, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. The Guardian is printed by the Natchitoches Times , a private firm in no way connected with the Depart- ment of the Army, under exclusive written contract with Fort Polk. The civilian printer is responsible for com- mercial advertising. The appearance of advertising in this publication, including inserts and supplements, does not constitute en- dorsement by the Department of the Army or the Natchitoches Times of the products or services advertised. Guardian Editorial Staff Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk commanding general Col. Jarrett Thomas II Garrison commander Kim Reischling Public affairs officer Chuck Cannon Editor Jean Dubiel Angie Thorne Staff writers Editorial Offices Building 4919, Magnolia Street Fort Polk, LA 71459-5060 Voice (337) 531-4033 Fax (337) 531-1401 Email: Trading post ads: Fort Polk Homepage Advertising For advertising contact (337) 404-7242 Email: Guardian May 24, 2019 FORT POLK, La. — For me, Me- morial Day is difficult. It is a day filled with mixed emotions. I am not overly sensitive, but it upsets me when someone innocently says, “Happy Memorial Day,” or thanks me for my service. This day is not about me, or any- one else that served or is currently wearing the uniform. This day is to honor those that have perished in the service of our nation: Those that have made the ultimate sacrifice; those that are no longer with us; those we were privileged to know. I’m not one of the veterans that say, “All the heroes I know are dead,” because they are not. I know plenty of true-life heroes. I served with many of them; many of them are right here at Fort Polk while oth- ers are scattered across the nation and globe. They are very much alive. They are extraordinary human be- ings that performed incredible acts of selfless service and bravery on and off the battlefield. I am honored and privi- leged to have known these Soldiers — it is one of the many blessings I have had in my life and I reflect on them often. But they are honored on Veterans Day, not Me- morial Day. Memorial Day is for heroes no longer here with us. Admittedly, some of them are no longer here be- cause of things beyond a leader’s control and honest mistakes caused by the fog of war and the fact that combat is just that — combat. I share this only to help put this in context to the meaning of Memorial Day and why so many veterans feel the same ire when one wishes us a happy Me- morial Day. It is not necessarily a happy day, but neither is it a day filled with re- morse. It is a strange mix of emo- tions that those not experienced with the bond that service builds or the horror of combat and the loss that accompanies it, will ever under- stand. I feel grateful for having known a few of those that have made this ultimate sacrifice, and I re- flect on the time shared with them as some of the highlights of my life. I feel I would have a much empti- er life if I had not been given this gift of knowing them, their friendship and Soldierly camaraderie. But then I feel deeply saddened their family and we as an Army and nation lost them so early and their full potential will never be known. Sometimes — no, many times — not just on Memo- rial Day, I am grief-stricken with thoughts of them. I feel that this grief is somewhat selfish, for what I feel can be nothing compared to what their family feels. In my 30 years in the Army and several conflicts, I was considered rather bold and maybe even reckless with my own safety in dangerous situations. I don’t think it was brave, just fear cloaked in necessity, and the bravado and showmanship required of my position. But those characteristics do not carry on in every aspect of life. This Memorial Day will mark the sixth anniversary of one of my close friends being killed in combat. I have yet to summon the moral courage to visit his final resting place and pay my proper respects, to share that fi- nal drink with him or tell him how much I miss him. I have refrained for many rea- sons, but I think that revelation alone should tell the uninitiated why I don’t want you to tell me, “happy Memorial Day,” and I think many combat veterans harbor the same thoughts. This Memorial Day, I hope to make that overdue journey, Todd. I owe you that much. So, on this Memorial Day, when you see your veteran husband, fa- ther, son or daughter deep in reflec- tion, don’t wish them a happy Me- morial Day. Give them a moment, give them some space, and most importantly, give them some understanding and finally — just maybe a hug. Let them know you understand. Listen to the stories they tell of their friends. As the noted English novelist Ter- ry Pratchett said: “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” This quote aptly fits the stories told by a veteran of a friend no longer here. He is likely trying to keep his friend’s memory alive through telling of his exploits and contributions. A hero lives forever in the minds of many. Today is not about the veteran or the active-duty Soldier — it is about the men and women buried across this nation in countless veteran and local cemeteries. They are not face- less, they are our friends, and fa- thers, sons and daughters — and we miss them. Honor them on this and every Memorial Day. Writer reflects on Memorial Day’s meaning By Retired Lt. Col. MARK LESLIE DPTMS Leslie Commentary The Central Louisiana Veterans Ceme- tery hosts a Memorial Day program Mon- day at 11 a.m. Col. Jarrett A. Thomas, Fort Polk garrison commander, is the keynote speaker. The cemetery is located at 3348 University Parkway, Leesville. Call (337) 238-6405 for more information. CLVC hosts Memorial Day event For advertising contact Theresa Larue ( ) - Email: sales