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Discussion in 'UO Developer Feed' started by UODevTracker, May 28, 2010.
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Memorial Day for many is sometimes a pre-event to the 4th of July, or Independence Day. They are two different days. One day is a day of reflection and consideration … the other is more of a celebration.
The day to look back on the sacrifices and loss of men and women dying in the service to one country is Memorial Day.
As many of you may know I am a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. The Air Force Academy is very much like West Point (Army) and Annapolis (Navy), just much younger with some crazy traditions – ours based on the fact we fly jets and move large things faster than the Navy. We do push ups after touch downs at football events, we are asked to eat a 30 minute meal in 4 minutes, and we had morning inspections every Saturday when the average college student would be sleeping off a very hedonistic Friday night.
Perhaps the most important wisdom instilled during the four years of running at altitude, screaming quotes from World War I and World War II generals; and making beds you never sleep on, was the respect for those who gave their lives for our freedom. Freedom to go to movies on the weekend, or the simple joy of traveling home on the holiday and our only concern was the speed limit, not bombs or suddenly disappearing at a roadside stop and never reaching our destination.
Many countries are not so blessed.
Every morning and afternoon we had formation. At this time all cadets are accounted for. If your roommate over-slept or had an exam, if the name was called, your flight commander would simply state “Absent sir.”
No one thinks much of it. It’s just roll call. It happens every day.
It happens every day until one particular weekend during the school year.
All cadets and alumni from 10, 20, and some 30 years gather in a large formation. All cadets are in formal uniform attire. For many minutes after the cadet wing is called to attention there is dead silence until a voice clear and slow rings across the gathering of about five to seven thousand: “Colonel Bob Fielding, Class of 1963” …
Then something strange happens, you wonder why this person is being called and then you hear that someone from his cadet squadron yells out “Absent, sir!”
The voice continues through every war and period from the time the Academy began until present, the names of the fallen officers and their graduating class year echoed by a voice from their respective cadet squadrons, replying “Absent, sir!”
Until … it’s your class year, and one of your classmates … and then you realize that person you saw a movie with, or helped crunch for an exam that many years ago is no longer with you … out of service to his or her country.
They are absent.
So often it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday sales, and the barbecues and whatever else flashes across the TV screen on a weekend like this.
I am asking you for a moment to remember the fallen.
Take care of your families, respect those who are still alive, or returned not quite whole as they protect who we are and what we do. Think about what you take for granted.
Find some time for reverence this Memorial Day … and be safe.