Memorial Day 2015

Photograph by Bill Putnam

Photograph by Bill Putnam–please click to enlarge.

Memorial Day is the quietest of national holidays and probably should be even quieter still. It’s hard to say anything in honor of fallen soldiers, Marines, airmen, and sailors that isn’t inadequate to their loss and thus seems fraudulent and self-serving. Even so, it’s hard to resist saying something, and perhaps even necessary. Below are the names of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan with whom I served, taught, or knew well. All were good men, and their memory informs my sense of what war writing—to include Time Now—can do and be. Here’s to all the good men and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all those who died in our previous wars, too.

On the right in the photograph above is Captain David Taylor, one of my lieutenants when I commanded a company in the 82nd Airborne Division. In the picture, taken in 2001, he’s standing on a hill outside Gnjilane, Kosovo, where he served as a company commander in a task force of which I was the executive officer. In 2006, Major Taylor was killed in an IED attack in Baghdad.

I’m also thinking about First Sergeant John Blair, Sergeant First Class Kevin Dupont, and Staff Sergeant Alex French, all US Army advisor team members who died in action in Khost or Paktya province, Afghanistan, while I was there. Also, Specialist Peter Courcy and Private First Class Jason Watson, who were assigned to Camp Clark, as was I, when they died in an IED blast just outside Khost city. Colonel Ted Westhusing and Lieutenant Colonel Joe Fenty, friends who died in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively, and former students Captain Dennis Pintor, killed in Iraq, and First Lieutenant Todd Lambka, killed in Afghanistan. Finally, Major Bill Hecker, whom I knew only through email, but who before dying in Iraq in 2006, published a book on Edgar Allan Poe, an achievement that impressed me enormously.

In my thoughts, I also remember the deaths of allies who fought on our side in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all the wars before.

Below is a photograph I took today in a small cemetery in Franklin Township, New Jersey, of a flag placed on the gravestone of a Revolutionary War veteran. I’m glad he is remembered and now add my measure of tribute.

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One Comment on “Memorial Day 2015”

  1. echenberg Says:

    Memorial day is the day when I try to bring all the guys back alive for a day, to do what I do, to hear again with my ear and to see again with my eyes.

    The most touching remarks ever made on this day were by Gen Lucian Truscott Jr. On Memorial Day at the cemetery Italy just after WW2, he simply turned away from the assembled dignitaries, faced the graves of his dead soldiers, apologized for the mistakes he had made that caused them to be there, and silently walked away….


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