Memorial Day

Memorial Day 2012

Back in the 90’s when I was a First Sergeant in the Army, I was asked to start writing some Non Commissioned Officer Development classes and leadership subjects.  I wrote a few articles and even had one on leadership published in the NCO Journal the Army’s Magazine for Non Commissioned Officer news, issues, and discussion.  While I was on my way to a promising writing career (which never happened) I dabbled in some poetry also.  A Retired Command Sergeant Major and author of “the Three Meter Zone” saw some of my writing and asked if he could publish some of it on his website.  Of course I was game.
A few years back (2008) I posted this poem here on the blog.  It is a poem I wrote in honor of Memorial Day.  It is still fitting now.  As I re read it tonight I could not help but notice that since the poem was written we have been a few more campaigns.  The post in 2008 also made mention of our Scout Troop placing the flags up at Willamette National Cemetery.   That year we (the Thunderbird District) placed 133,000 flags.  This year we placed 140,000.
So here is my poem for Memorial Day.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Rise up
Rise up O’ men of Valor,
A Nation in debt to thee
For the freedom of this Republic,
You fought and died for me.

Rise up O’ men of Honor,
The fields of battle did you go
From Lexington and Concord,
To the Bulge and all its snow.
Gettysburg to Normandy Vietnam and Somalia
You gave it all for me.

So Rise up O’ men of Courage,
For without you we do not share
The freedom of this nation,
Is ours because you were there.Freedoms blood soaked on foreign lands
A soldier’s cry with outstretched hands
Do not forget the price they paid,
They gave it all for Freedoms sake.

Rise up O’ men of Valor
Your Honor and Courage reign.
For the price of Freedom you understood
But paid it just the same.

Memorial Day 2000
© Gerald J. Schleining Jr-US ARMY

Categories: Character, Citizenship, Memorial Day | 1 Comment

Selfless Service

Selfless Service has been a main stay of the Scouting movement.  It is the desire to serve others.  It is the motivation to “So unto others…”  It is essentially the Scouting way.
The value of Selfless service is important more than ever in our society.  Today the world revolves around “Me”.  Everything for “Me”.  Self gratification, the need to be served, the entitlement that most people feel they deserve.  Last week as I helped teach at the High School I saw this in many of the students.  “What is the world going to do for me when I walk out of High School?”  Instead of looking forward and seeing the opportunities to serve.
Service need not be in the military, it does not have to come in the form of social work or police and fire.  Service comes from within each and every one of us to do good.
Volunteerism is a big thing right now in our country.  Most major corporations have some sort of “Volunteer” opportunities to get out into the community and do good.  UPS, the company I work for has a program called ‘Neighbor to Neighbor’.  It is a program that goes out and does work on people’s houses, yards, and cleans up neighborhoods that are in dire need of a good scrubbing.  UPS also asks that employees that do volunteer work on their own log those volunteer hours with the company.  It probably gets the company an award or something at the end of the year, but the point is that the push is there to get out and do good.  We see it on TV all the time, campaigns that call us to “Give an hour” or “Live United”.
In Scouting we just make a promise to “Help other people at all times”  That’s all.
Yesterday as we placed all those flags I could not help but think of the great opportunity and habit that we are forming in our Scouts.  Habits of service.  To be selfless in the act of serving.  The meaning rings true when placing a flag on the grave of a soldier.  Not to get to overly dramatic, but that is the ultimate call to selflessly serve.  The knowledge that one day you could pay in full for some one else.
At the top of the hill at Willamette National Cemetery is 4 head stones, much like the rest, but these are inlaid in gold and have a special marker above the name.  These are the 4 individuals that understood selfless service above and beyond that of the average soldier.  They may have just been in the wrong or right place at the wrong or right time, but either way, these for men were awarded the Medal of Honor.  The act which earned them the highest award in our Nation comes down to this.  They were in a situation that when faced with a choice, they chose to serve their buddy.  It always comes down to this.  Citation after citation for the Medal of Honor, it always reads the same.  They stood out above and at the end of the day it was to help one of their own get out of a sticky situation, rescue their comrade, hold of the enemy till help could arrive, move fallen soldiers in the midst of hostile action.  SELFLESS SERVICE.
Now I am sure that not one of the recipients of the Medal of Honor would tell you he wants it or tried to earn it.  They will all tell you that they were just doing their job… they were just serving their buddy or doing their duty.  And I am not suggesting that we strive to earn the Medal of Honor.
Building in our young people a love for service is what I am suggesting.  The need to be of service is a great one and we need to instill in our young people a willingness to go above and beyond what the TV asks and corporations suggest as levels of service.  To truly serve our neighbor, our community, our country.
Selfless Service is a must in our world today.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Memorial Day, Oath and Law, Service, Values | Leave a comment

Flags

On a rainy Thursday evening the Thunderbird District of the Cascade Pacific Council converged on Willamette National Cemetery.  If they didn’t come the 140,000 grave markers would go without a flag this Memorial Day.  For 44 years the Thunderbird District has placed flags on the graves at Willamette.  Over those 44 years the Scouts of the District have seen the number of flags increase.  In 1968 when the District started placing the flags our Nation was burying young men killed in action in Vietnam.  They were serving our community by honoring World War I veterans that were being interned at this hallowed ground.   Then the Cold War saw routine burials of World War II Veterans followed by Korean War Veterans. 
Today the grounds have swelled and expanded from 201 acres to 301 acres.  A new section is filling with Veterans from the Vietnam era and new grave markers host men and women from Iraq and Afghanistan.  I hope we will not have to expand the cemetery further.
This evening in a steady rain my Troop placed flags in section F.  That is our section, the area we place flags in every year.  Each year, as the Troop grows, we cover the area a little faster, but not without reverence and a sense of thankfulness for the reason these men and women are buried at Willamette National Cemetery.  They all served and so we in turn will continue to serve.
As a Veteran and Scoutmaster, I am so very proud of the Scouts of not only my Troop, but the Packs, Troops, and Crews from our District.   The dedication of these Scouts and Scouters to place these flags is special to me and to the families that will be paying their respects, the visitors to loved ones, the children of a Veteran, and the passer-by that stops into Willamette to see what this is all about.
Tonight our Scouts practiced a very important part of being a citizen.  Love for our Country and our fellow Countrymen.
Watching the Scouts tonight renewed my belief in our young people.  Thank you Scouts!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Citizenship, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Memorial Day, Patriotism, Values | Leave a comment

Memorial Day 2011

Memorial Day has always been a day that our family observed beyond the BBQ and long weekend event.  My Dad was a career soldier and served in Vietnam, and having lost many of his friends there, Memorial Day had special meaning.  My Grandfather served in World War II and honored that generation of American Warrior that gave so much for the cause of freedom.
But Memorial Day took on a new or at least a special meaning to me once I returned from Iraq… and more so once I retired from the Army.
It was a hot early morning 18 miles south of Baghdad, I was returning with a Patrol from B CO.  We had been patrolling a sector looking for insurgents that had been placing IED’s along MSR Tampa, the main supply route in and out of Baghdad.
We had turned the corner and were on the side road that led into our camp when all of a sudden the whole world came unglued.  An RPG hit the HUMMV in the lead of the convoy flipping it over.  The young soldier in the turret’s name is SPC Wright.  He was severely wounded.  The driver and co driver were shaken up pretty bad.  The patrol dismounted and returned fire, in what seemed like an hour (it was actually about 2 minutes) it was all over.  The insurgents fled.
Now this was not the first time we had engaged the enemy in and around our sector, but this day was the day that we really did not want to make contact.. we were heading home in a few days.  Specialist Wright lay on the ground surrounded by medics covered in blood and transmission fluid from the HUMMV.  I was looking down at the young man, he was only 20 at the time.  His eyes stared at me and he asked me if he was ok.  “You’ll be fine” I told him.  The medic handed me an IV bag and I held it up as they opened it up to a full drip.  “Am I going to die Sergeant Major?” he asked.  “Not today” I told him.  The Blackhawk with the big red cross on it arrived and we loaded him in.  As he flew away I thought that this day would be one I never forget.  I had seen death, destruction, and what the worst in human nature could do to other humans, but this was close.  When we got back to the states I saw Wright, he is alive a well.  He told me that all he could remember of that day was me standing over him telling him he would be ok.
Today we remember all of the men and women that paid in full for our Freedom.  I lost a dear friend, SSG Brad Lindsey in the fight against Global Terrorism.  He was a soldier in my company when I was a First Sergeant.  He was my radio operator.  On his second tour in the Global War on Terror he was killed in Action in Afghanistan.  It was a hurt that I will never forget.
We have all been touched by the loss of a service member.  So today, unfortunately is the one day that we all choose to remember.
So enjoy the BBQ, have a great day off… but some time today, look to the heavens (cause that’s where they are) and say thanks to those that paid the price for our freedom.

Last Thursday, the Scouts of my Troop, and the Scouts of the entire Thunderbird District placed a Flag on every head stone at the Willamette National Cemetery.  A few hours of our Scouts showing that they really care and an opportunity to reinforce in this next generation the idea that freedom has a price and someone has to pay it.
I hope to God that none of the Scouts of my Troop ever have to go off to war.  But I never want them to forget the men and women that did.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Memorial Day, Patriotism, respect, Service | 3 Comments

Memorial Day 2008

Memorial Day 2008

Thank you to all those that have served our Nation with pride and selflessness.

The Scouts of Troop 664 proudly assisted the Gresham Community at the Gresham Hero’s memorial.
Troop 664 helped with the set and preparation of the event and provided the Color Guard.

Citizenship in our Community is instilled in our Scouts when they participate in events like today. It is a great opportunity to teach and reinforce values of Honor, Character, and selfless service.

On Behalf of Troop 664 and the Scouting Community…. Thank you to all of our Veterans that have given so much so we can have so much.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Memorial Day, Service, Values | Leave a comment

Memorial Day Weekend

As we enter the Memorial Day weekend I just wanted to take a few seconds of your time and say thank you.
Last night, 20 Scouts from my Troop joined with about a thousand Scouts from our District for the 40th Annual Flag placement ceremony at Willamette National Cemetery.

All of the units of the district presented their unit flags and their American Flags as a Marine Color Guard presented the Colors. Speeches from the Veterans Administration Cemetery Director and a Veteran of the Iraqi Campaign were made. They kept their speeches short this year due to the rain, but the point each made was about Duty and Honor and how being Boy Scouts we live those values and strive to be men and women of Character.

After the Flag was lowered to half staff and the bugler played taps the units were dismissed to begin placing small flag on the grave markers of the 133,174 men and women that have served our Great Nation interned there.

We took the time to stop and visit our most honored, Medal of Honor recipients buried at the top of the cemetery. A brief explanation of the selfless sacrifice these men made in the service of their Country and then we were off to our Troops designated area.

The Scouts placed the flags at the bottom of the marker, centered on the marker. They read the name and gave the Veteran a crisp Scout Hand Salute. For most of those honored Veterans, our Scouts will be the only visitor they received this weekend.

After we completed our assigned area, we moved on to help with some other areas, particularly Troops and Packs that are smaller and needed more help.

When we completed the placement of the Flags, I gathered the Troop up and thanked them for what they had done.
As a Veteran myself, I wanted them to know that on behalf of all Veterans, especially those of us that have served abroad in conflict, we appreciate what they did. Placing the flags so that on Memorial day, when the cemetery is packed with visitors, they see the never ending sea of red, white, and blue banners that mark the resting place of one that selflessly served their Country.
A visual reminder that for Freedom we must pay… and we pay with the lives of our men and women that choose to serve.
A reminder that so many give so much to guarantee that we maintain the life that we have here in America, all politics aside, they do it because they loved our Country and know that it is the greatest place on Earth.

So this Memorial Day weekend.. be safe and enjoy, but remember, we can because of Veterans.
Let me share you with you a poem I wrote eight years ago. It was originally published on a site called JD’s Bunker.

Rise up

Rise up O’ men of Valor,
A Nation in debt to thee
For the freedom of this Republic,
You fought and died for me.

Rise up O’ men of Honor,
The fields of battle did you go
From Lexington and Concord,
To the Bulge and all its snow.
Gettysburg to Normandy
Vietnam and Somalia
You gave it all for me.

So Rise up O’ men of Courage,
For without you we do not share
The freedom of this nation,
Is ours because you were there.

Freedoms blood soaked on foreign lands
A soldier’s cry with outstretched hands
Do not forget the price they paid,
They gave it all for Freedoms sake.

Rise up O’ men of Valor
Your Honor and Courage reign.
For the price of Freedom you understood
But paid it just the same.

Memorial Day 2000
© Gerald J. Schleining-US ARMY

HAPPY SCOUTING!
Categories: Memorial Day | Leave a comment

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