It is the Memorial Day weekend, replete with its abundance of food and drink and frolic and a reluctance to even consider what the day is really for.
There are a couple of things that should make this Memorial Day a little different than the others…if for no other reason than they involve two local men…two local heroes. One of them is still with us.
At the White House yesterday, The President presented the Congressional Medal of Honor on retired Navy Seal Britt Slabinski.
Slabinski led a team against heavily-armed combatants in a rescue attempt of a petty officer during a 2002 operation in Afghanistan, during which several U.S. service members were reportedly killed.
His dad was a military man. And he followed in his dad’s footsteps.
That was not the only story that catches ones attention this Memorial Day 2018.
The remains of Private First Class Francis Drake, who was killed in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands in 1942, were flown from Bradley International Airport on Thursday, then to a Springfield funeral home.
He was the first Springfield military man killed in World War Two.
Back in 2011, a man was on his property on the Solomon Islands and found the remains and started the ball rolling on Drake’s final trip home.
At St Michael’s Cathedral, a service…an honor guard and burial at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Agawam.
Slabinski is not the only one we think about on this day.
Also in Northampton, President Calvin Coolidge on May 30th of 1923 addressed the area and the nation about the importance of the day.
“Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country. In no other nation on earth does this principle have such complete application.”
Later he would say, “It is no wonder that the people are attached to America when we consider what it has done and what it represents. It has been called the last great hope of the world. Its simple story is a romance of surpassing interest. Its accomplishments rise above the realm of fable. To live under the privileges of its citizenship is the highest position of opportunity and achievement ever reached by a people.”
And still later, Coolidge, who delivered this address as Vice President, soon to ascend to the presidency upon the death of Warren Harding,
“Yet war is not the worst of evils, and these days have been set apart to do honor to all those, now gone, who made the cause of America their supreme choice. Some fell with the word of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” almost ringing in their ears. Some heard that word across the intervening generations and were still obedient to its call. It is to the spirit of those men, exhibited in all our wars, to the spirit that places the devotion to freedom and truth above the devotion to life, that the nation pays its ever enduring mark of reverence and respect.”Calvin Coolidge said all that.
On this Memorial Day weekend we thing about the Retired Navy Seal at the White House and the Springfield man who died alone and is coming home.
Heroes at the very least.
Both secure that they were one in their love of country…their fight for freedom and the American Way.
There was one other line in the address of then Vice President Coolidge….I will leave it with you. He was if my history is still with me actually quoting from the bible.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”