Memorial Day 2014

More than 1,280,000 Americans have died in war since the American Revolutionary War. Memorial Day is a time to remember not only these soldiers, sailors, pilots, and marines, but also ALL American military personnel who have died while in service of their country.

Let’s start by clearly defining what Memorial Day is. I’ve heard many versions of what it is… I’ve even heard it confused with Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day is an American holiday used to remember the men and women who died while serving, while Veteran’s Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead. Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday during the month of May. Originating after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers (both sides!) who died during the Civil War, it was originally called Decoration Day. Traditionally folks put flowers and other decorations on soldiers’ graves. This was the start of Decoration Day.

Over time, the name changed from Decoration to Memorial. Then in 1967 it was officially changed to Memorial Day and also extended to recognize and honor all military men and women who died while serving (instead of just the Civil War). The holiday was celebrated on May 30th, but in 1968 Congress passed the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act,” and Memorial Day was one of the holidays moved from its traditional date to a specified Monday. This was done to make convenient three-day weekends.

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. That said, the absolute definition seems to include anyone who dies during military service.

Because Memorial Day is the beginning of Summer, and most of the flag related holidays come after it, my family replaces our flag on the night before Memorial Day. Each year, we pull down and properly retire/dispose of our old flag and replace it with a brand new one. This way we will have a pretty flag for Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, and Veteran’s Day…

Proper care of a U.S. flag is of utmost importance. For those of you who fly a flag, maybe you already know this part… Some of you may not be aware that there is actually a formal way to properly retire and dispose of an old and worn flag. I will discuss what the Ripley family does for this procedure. There are several options, including bringing your old flag to a local Boy Scout Troop, American Legion, or VFW office. However, we choose to burn the flag in our back yard. Any of these ways are valid. The one thing you MUST NEVER do is simply throw an old flag in the garbage!

We start by buying a high quality flag which will last for a year before it really starts to show signs of being worn and ready for disposal. On the evening before Memorial Day we dispose of last year’s flag. I picked this date, because it’s a great time to explain the importance of the flag to the children, and we can do so while going through our family ceremony.

Here’s our personal retirement ceremony in a nutshell:

1. While the flag is still hanging, call the group to attention, salute, place your hand over your heart, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States (originally composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892)

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

 

2. The leader says, “This flag has served its nation and our family well. It is worn to a condition which is not fit to be used to represent the United States of America. We are grateful for its symbolizing our great nation and we pay honor to this flag for the service it has rendered. We will now fold and dispose of this flag.”

3. Take the flag down and then properly fold it.

4. Move to the prepared fire and everyone salutes the flag one last time. The group holds their salute until the leader places it on the fire and then they all finish the salute with the leader’s final salute. The group remains standing reverently until the flag is completely consumed.

The last thought is… Remember that today is a special day and we should honor our fallen brothers and sisters. Spend at least a minute today to reflect quietly and feel sincere gratitude for all that our military has done in our name. Thank you for reading this, and thank you for listening to this patriot rant. I love you all.

-Vaughn “the patriot” Ripley

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Veterans Day 2013

Today’s article is about my father, George Borden… Well, actually it’s about Veterans Day and all of the people who have served in the United States armed forces also known as “veterans.” However, I’m going to dedicate it to someone that I’m very proud of and honored to call “father.”

First off, let’s define what Veterans Day is:

It’s a federal holiday that is observed on November 11; which also marks the anniversary of the end of World War I. The major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.

Now back to the star of our story… George was in Vietnam from July 15, 1968 until July 15, 1969. His unit was “A” Battery 1st of the 30th Artillery 1st Air Cavalry. During his tour in Vietnam, George served in I, II, III, and IV Corps. His radio handle was “Hard Charger 24” and his battery received numerous commendation ribbons, medals, and citations.

George is not really a superstitious man, but on Friday the 13th, June 13th, 1969 he walked out of his tent and it took a direct artillery hit moments later. Unfortunately these kind of things happen on a regular basis during war, and George faced these types of things repeatedly.

On one occasion, George ran into a burning building that contained several 50-gallon drums of fuel. He did this because an injured soldier was trapped in the building. When he realized he could not get the man out, he quickly rolled the 50-gallon drums out of the fire; which allowed others to help save the man’s life. For this heroic act, George was awarded the Bronze Star (this medal is the fourth-highest individual military award) for acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone.

The medal is obviously something I’m proud of, but that is not the extent of my feelings about George. War is hell and he served despite this. For that, I am not only proud, but also eternally grateful. I love my father with all of my heart and his military service is only one small piece of the things that make me proud and honored to be his son.

I told my children that this article was about their “Granddaddy” and they both asked to say something…

Xander, my five year old son, said, “I’m proud of my Granddaddy because he protected us in the war.”

Trinity, my eight year old daughter, said, “Granddaddy always reads ‘Goodnight Little Mouse’ to us, and I love being with him on holidays. He’s my hero.”

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

 

In 1945, World War II veteran, Raymond Weeks, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans (not just those who died in World War I). General Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of a National Veterans Day, agreed. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985. Also, in 1982, President Reagan honored Weeks at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal and named him as the driving force for the national holiday. To this day, Weeks is known as the “Father of Veterans Day.”

I’d like to take this time to thank all of the people in my life who have served in the U.S. military. I can’t possibly remember everyone, but I am eternally grateful to all. A few key people who have directly impacted my life are, Scean Ripley, Kim Ripley, Laine Ripley, Dano Christensen, Paul Ostrowski, Solomon Roller, Ben “slow poke” Srigley, Sadiki “WTJHAND” Harriott, Dan Bennett, Jack Breazeale, Jim Zak, David Crosby, Chuck Underwood, Robert “Mike” Johnson, Alan “William” Altizer, Richard Myers, Dan “Uncle Dan” McNally, Chris “what bone should I break next?” Marra, and Carl “Chuck Norris” Wright. Thank you very much for your service

And, I’d like to give a shout-out to all who have served… Thank you for your past, present, and future service!

Finally, I will close with a special thank you to the man of the day, my father, George Borden. Thank you, Dad!

Please take a moment and think of all of the people you know who have or are serving our country in the military. Close your eyes and think gratefully about all military personnel.

Thank you for listening (reading). Hugs and peace to all…

-Vaughn

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