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    Memorial Day Tag

    Each Memorial Day we try to focus on the lives of a small number of individuals who gave their lives for our country, and whose stories we have followed for several years. In this way we put human faces and life stories honoring all those who paid the ultimate price. Click on each hyperlinked heading for prior posts about the person.

    This weekend was the worst of Twitter, and the best of Twitter The worst was the horrible response of "comedian" Dean Obeidallah to a mild comment from Bill Presson on Twitter regarding a Tweet by Obeidallah dedicating Memorial Day to the anti-Trump Resistance. That mild comment from Presson was responded to by Obeidallah with a question about Presson's profile pic: "Are u wearing a Nazi outfit?"

    Cornell Law School graduation was held this year at the campus sports arena used for basketball games. It was the first time that I can remember that the sports complex was used for that purpose, and the faculty met in the Class of 1944 room as we awaited the processional. If you want to watch, you can view it here.  And yes, I am in it, but you'll have to find me. After that, I'll show you my vacation pictures. While waiting, I saw this plaque on the wall:

    Each memorial day we try to focus on the lives of a small number of individuals who gave their lives for our country, and whose stories we have followed for several years. Rachel Porto, the widow of Marine Corporal Jonathan Porto, wrote a moving post for Legal insurrection, I am proud to be the widow of Cpl Jonathan Daniel Porto, USMC. The post has received widespread attention on social media. Please retweet: https://twitter.com/LegInsurrection/status/737089384873238528 We also have a post by Jane Horton, about her husband Christopher Horton, who we have not written about before, “My husband, like many fallen service members, would want to see you live”.

    On Sept. 9, 2011, my husband, Spc. Christopher Horton, was killed in action in Paktia, Afghanistan. My world shattered. As I struggled to look through the kaleidoscope lens that made up my life, I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t eat, and I could barely breathe. I didn’t understand why God would take away my husband so soon, or why he chose me to live on alone and carry this great burden. I was drowning in grief, heartbroken and almost hopeless. Throughout my long four and half years of being a war widow, nothing has been harder for me than to learn to live — when all I wanted to do was die. There have been many sleepless nights where I have laid on my face praying and crying my eyes out, and many mornings where I rolled up into a ball, asking for God to take me, or somehow spare me from this pain. I didn’t want to be here anymore, I didn’t want to face the day. Christopher and Jane Horton Wedding Lawn

    Several years ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time in France studying World War II. I left with an incredible appreciation for our veterans and their sacrifice. This is the story of my visit to the Memorial Cemetery at Omaha Beach. As we celebrate Memorial Day, may we always remember those that paid the ultimate price for freedom. I woke up a little cranky. The long, bumpy bus ride certainly didn’t help to improve my already sour mood. I knew I shouldn’t have stayed out so late. Seven o’clock was way too early to be traipsing up and down a beach; I really hoped there was a place to get a good, strong cup of coffee nearby. As the bus turned into a small parking lot, I pulled the headphones out of my ears and tucked my iPod into my little pink bag. Our professor informed us we’d reached our destination. After the bus parked, we all filed out methodically. Surveying the group it seemed as though I wasn’t the only one having a hard time waking up. The morning was gray, cold and solemn. It was cooler than I anticipated. I zipped up my jacket, tucked my hands into my pockets and fell in line with the group.

    Memorial Day. What does it mean to me? It means a time to reflect on my husband's service and sacrifice. A time to reflect on the sacrifices of thousands of families like my own. I met Jonny Porto in 2008 shortly after I graduated college. He was stationed on the Army post on which I worked and we met one summer weekend night at the bowling alley. I was immediately struck by his charisma, sincerity, and devilishly handsome good looks. I spent the evening with him and his friends, and although I had just met them all, they made me feel like we've been friends forever. At the end of the night, Jonny asked me if he could kiss me. I figured, "Sure, why not?" Little did I know that would be the kiss that would change my life. Many thought it was sudden when Jonathan proposed to me in November, but we knew it was right. We married on May 2, 2009, only 9 months after meeting. It was a true whirl-wind romance.

    As Americans across the nation begin Memorial Day weekend with thoughts and prayers honoring our nation's fallen heroes, vandals defaced veteran memorials in California, Kentucky, and Virginia. ABC News reports:
    Memorials to veterans in a Los Angeles neighborhood and a town in Kentucky, as well as a Civil War veterans cemetery in Virginia, were damaged as the nation prepares to mark Memorial Day, officials said. A Vietnam War memorial in the Venice area of Los Angeles has been extensively defaced by graffiti. The vandalism occurred sometime during the past week, KCAL/KCBS-TV (http://cbsloc.al/1RAa3mg) reported. The homespun memorial painted on a block-long wall on Pacific Avenue lists the names of American service members missing in action or otherwise unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. News of the vandalism came as another veterans-related memorial was reported damaged in Henderson, Kentucky. Police say a Memorial Day cross display there that honors the names of 5,000 veterans of conflicts dating back to the Revolutionary War has been damaged by a driver who plowed through the crosses early Saturday.

    The story "The Man Without a Country" used to be standard reading matter for seventh graders. In fact, it was the first "real" book---as opposed to those tedious Dick and Jane readers---that I was assigned in school. It was exciting compared to Dick and Jane and the rest, since it dealt with an actual story that had some actual drama to it. It struck me as terribly sad---and unfair, too---that Philip Nolan was forced to wander the world, exiled, for one moment of cursing the United States. "The Man Without a Country" was the sort of paean to patriotism that I would guess is rarely or never assigned nowadays to students. Patriotism has gotten a bad name during the last few decades. This trend seems to have taken root (at least in this country) with the 60s, the Vietnam era, and the rise in influence of the left. But patriotism and nationalism were rejected by a significant segment of Europeans even earlier, as a result of the devastation both sentiments wrought on that continent during World War II. (Of course, WWII in Europe was a result mainly of German nationalism run amok, but it seems to have given nationalism as a whole a very bad name, a trend that began after the carnage of World War I.)

    Legal Insurrection has been filled with touching Memorial Day pieces, especially Professor Jacobson's on Roslyn Schulte, Johnny “Mike” Spann and Jonathan Porto. My contribution, and one I intend to carry forward on future Memorial Days, will feature American scientists and engineers whose discoveries and innovations have helped our military men and women return to their families. However, I would like to begin with a woman who was not a scientist, but whose World War II innovation still impacts our lives today and allows our service men and women to stay connected to home while they are on duty. Lamarr-Stars-and-Stripes-300x243 Hedy Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria. After ending an unhappy marriage in 1937, to a wealthy Austrian munitions manufacturer who sold arms to the Nazis, the actress fled to the United States and signed a contract with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio in Hollywood under the name Hedy Lamarr. She became a big star upon the release of her first American film, Algiers, co-starring Charles Boyer.

    Ronald Reagan could deliver a speech almost like no other President. 31 years ago, Reagan delivered an address to commemorate an unknown serviceman in the Vietnam War. Never one to make such moments about himself, the speech is a brief 9 minutes long. The text of the speech follows: --- My fellow Americans: Memorial Day is a day of ceremonies and speeches. Throughout America today, we honor the dead of our wars. We recall their valor and their sacrifices. We remember they gave their lives so that others might live. We're also gathered here for a special event -- the national funeral for an unknown soldier who will today join the heroes of three other wars.

    Memorial Day is always a bittersweet holiday for me. I enjoy having a day to partake in BBQ and beer (Texas BBQ though, not what Yanks call "BBQ"), while wearing my favorite, ratty, American flag t-shirt and watching war movies. As much as I love reflecting on this brilliant country a bunch of old dudes created a couple hundred years ago, there is a weight that lies heavy on my heart on days like Memorial Day. It's the simple reminder that freedom is never free. Our freedom comes at inestimable price. More often than not, that debt is only satisfied with blood. When I was in high school "Saving Private Ryan" made its silver screen debut. Always a sucker for war movies, I went to see it on opening weekend. Completely unaware that what I was about to see would have a lasting impact, I sprung for cherry sours, a Coke slushy and found a seat. The first thirty minutes of the film were unlike anything I'd ever seen on screen and easily the most intense. At the time I was only vaguely familiar with the D-Day invasion. What I knew of D-Day I'd learned from 60s flicks like "The Longest Day." Unlike the older World War II films where a bullet to the heart resulted in a theatrical fall sometimes accompanied by a bit of obviously fake blood and famous last words, "Saving Private Ryan" was the goriest movie I’d ever seen. A soldier reached down to pick up his arm that had been blown off and another lay on the ground, his guts strewn across the sand. The water was red with blood and soldier after soldier fell in similarly violent fashion, some never making it off the landing craft.
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