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It all began 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.
During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moan of a soldier who lay mortally wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention.
Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.
The Captain lit a lantern. Suddenly, he caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, he enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. His request was partially granted.
The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for the son at the funeral. That request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. Out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician.
The Captain chose a bugler.
He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of his dead son's uniform. This wish was granted.
This music was the haunting melody we now know as "TAPS" that is used at all military funerals.
In case you are interested, these are the words to "TAPS":
Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lakes
From the hills
From the sky
All is well
Safely rest
God is nigh.

A Real Job
You know, some people still don't understand why military personnel do what they do for a living.
This exchange between Senators John Glenn and Howard Metzenbaum is worth reading. Not only is it a pretty impressive impromptu speech, but it's also a good example of one man's explanation of why men and women in the Uniformed Services do what they do for a living. And an example of what those who have never served think of the Military.
Senator Metzenbaum to Senator Glenn: "How can you run for Senate when you've never held a real "job"?"
Senator Glenn: "I served 23 years in the United States Marine Corps. I served through two wars. I flew 149 missions. My plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire on 12 different occasions. I was in the space program.
It wasn't my checkbook; it was my Life on the line. It was not a 9 to 5 job where I took time off to take the daily cash receipts to the bank. I ask you to go with me...as I went the other day... to a Veterans Hospital and look at those men with their mangled bodies in the eye and tell them they didn't hold a job. You go with me to the space program and go as I have gone to the widows and orphans of Ed White and Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee and you look those kids in the eye and tell them that their dad didn't hold a job. You go with me on Memorial Day coming up, and you stand in Arlington National Cemetery, where I have more friends than I'd like to remember - and you watch those waving flags, and you stand there, and you think about this nation, and you tell me that those people didn't have a job.
I'll tell you, Howard Metzenbaum, you should be on your knees every day of your life thanking God that there were some men-SOME MEN- who held a job. And they required a dedication to purpose and a love of country and a dedication to duty that was more important than life itself. And their self-sacrifice is what made this country possible..
I HAVE HELD A JOB, HOWARD! What about you?
Credit to: STUART HIGLEY, SSgt, USAF 43 AW Ground Safety

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity.
Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet?
He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers did not run out of fuel.
He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose evergrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
She - or he - is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or did not come back AT ALL.
He is the Quantico drill instructor that has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.
He is the parade - riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.
He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being, a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.
Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU".

Remember November 11th is Veterans Day
"It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protestor to burn the flag."
Father Denis Edward O'Brien, USMC

The uniform of a Paratrooper hangs -
ready to go.
It signifies pride though sometimes becomes a trap -
to leave loved ones at home alone.

The Paratrooper knows the rules that the uniform implies -
he awaits somewhat anxious moments and awakens with a sigh -
to know he must leave; for a month or twelve.

Whether it be the field or to a foreign land, the Paratrooper knows his duty,
for he is constantly reminded that his purpose isn't far away.

Even in his deepest sleep,
realities of world situations beckon to him
to always be ready at a moments notice and when that moment comes,
he reaches for that Airborne uniform that hangs-
ready to go.

Deborah Murray

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