The Times West Virginian

Headline News

May 28, 2013

Americans honor fallen service members

Obama: ‘Let us not forget as we gather here today that our nation is still at war’

ATLANTA — Americans gathered at memorials, museums and monuments and the president laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen service members on Memorial Day, as combat in Afghanistan approaches 12 years and the ranks of World War II veterans dwindle.

“Let us not forget as we gather here today that our nation is still at war,” President Barack Obama said after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“When they give their lives, they are still being laid to rest in cemeteries in quiet corners across our country, including here in Arlington,” he said. He told the stories of three soldiers who had died. Each had been devoted to their mission and were praised by others for saving lives.

Hours later, veterans from conflicts from World War II to Afghanistan and Iraq gathered in Atlanta to dedicate a new veterans’ park. Soldiers, airmen, Marines and seamen looked on as veterans and military family members sprinkled soil, sand and water from battlefields and waterways across the world.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Rick Lester called it “a reminder of our country’s timeline of freedom.” A 26-year veteran with multiple tours in Vietnam, Germany and Korea, Lester conceived the ceremony as a way to honor living veterans and those who never made it home.

The pilot recalled in detail the numbers of men lost on missions he flew in Vietnam. “All I can think about is how those were some of the greatest guys I ever met and what they would have done for this country once they got back,” he said.

The soil and sand ranged from Revolutionary battlefields like Lexington and Concord to Tikrit in Iraq. There was none from the Civil War, Lester said, because “that was a time that our country was divided.”

Battlefield remnants were mixed in a helmet Lester’s father wore on D-Day in France in 1944. They were sprinkled from cups that his uncle, a Marine, used in World War II. His father lived. His uncle was killed in action.

Susan Jimison poured water collected from the Hudson River, Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean.  

Her brother, Mark Clotfelter, was a helicopter pilot shot down June 16, 1969, in Vietnam. The 22-year-old was later confirmed dead. Jimison was 14 at the time and recalled how a politically unpopular war affected the way her brother’s death was treated. “Nobody talked about it,” she said.

It wasn’t until many years later that she started trying to learn about his military service and those who served alongside him. Now, she’s married to a man, Michael Jimison, who flew with him, and she’s writing a book about their company.

It’s important, she said, for Americans to learn the personal stories behind military history and international conflict. “My brother died doing what he loved doing,” she said.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined military leaders and others at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Manhattan. He later encouraged New Yorkers to celebrate the day and the good weather but also “remember the sacrifice that was made so that we could be here.”

At the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, about 20 bicyclists clustered around veteran and museum volunteer Tom Blakey. The paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division jumped at Normandy on D-Day — June 6, 1944 — and in May 1945 helped liberate the work camp at Wobbelin in northwest Germany.

“Most of us wondered why we were there, killing people and being killed,” he said. “We didn’t do anything to deserve it. When we got to that camp and saw what was there, the lights came on.”

The cycling group makes regular weekend training runs, and on Monday started a Memorial Day ride about seven miles away at the national cemetery in Chalmette, where the Battle of New Orleans — the last in the War of 1812 — was fought.

Once again aboard the historic USS Hornet, 83-year-old Dale Berven reflected on his tour of duty in Korea as a naval aviator as he took in the commemoration. As the bugle corps warmed up, Berven looked out from the now-decommissioned aircraft carrier docked in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, which ferried him around the world in a goodwill tour in 1954, the year after the Korean War ended.

At just 23 years old, Berven said he flew dozens of sorties as a lieutenant junior grade with the 91st Fighter Squadron.

“I was young and single, I had volunteered and I wanted to do that type of work,” said Berven, now a docent at the USS Hornet Museum. “That is how people are now. They’re not drafted, so you have 18-, 19-year olds who are giving up their lives for the freedom of this country. We ought to honor all those service men and women and not bring politics into it.”

In South Sioux City, Neb., a statue honoring a Navy dog handler was unveiled in his hometown. The statue of Petty Officer 1st Class John Douangdara (dwung-DEHR’-ah) and his dog, Bart, is part of a five-acre dog park that’s named for Douangdara. Douangdara died along with 29 other Americans in August 2011 when a military helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.

Across much of New England, several days of heavy rain gave way to sunny skies for parades in towns large and small.

In Portland, Maine, kids and even pets displayed the Stars and Stripes as veterans, youth groups law enforcement officials and civic organizations paraded to Monument Square to the tunes of a marching band, sirens from a police car and the rumble of motorcycles.

For some veterans, it was a somber event.

Richard Traiser, a Marine injured when his tank came under attack in Vietnam, helped deliver a three-volley salute with the Marine Corps League.

Memorial Day gives those who served an opportunity to get together and remember friends who didn’t make it.

“I think about them a lot, especially the people I lost in my platoon,” Traiser said. “I don’t dwell on it in a morbid way, but it’s on your mind.”

In Connecticut, a Waterford man who was killed in the Vietnam War was honored with a hometown park area named for him. Arnold E. Holm Jr., nicknamed “Dusty,” was killed when his helicopter was shot down on June 11, 1972.

The holiday weekend also marked the traditional start of the U.S. vacation season. AAA, one of the nation’s largest leisure travel agencies, expected 31.2 million Americans to hit the road over the weekend, virtually the same number as last year. Gas prices were about the same as last year, up 1 cent to a national average of $3.65 a gallon Friday.

At the American Airpower Museum on Long Island, N.Y., a program honored Women Air Service Pilots, or WASPs, who tested and ferried completed aircraft from factories to bases during World War II. Thirty-eight died during the war, including Alice Lovejoy of Scarsdale, N.Y., who was killed on Sept. 13, 1944, in a midair collision over Texas.

“It’s very important that we recognize not only their contribution to American history, but women’s history,” said Julia Lauria-Blum, curator of the WASP exhibit at the museum. “These women really blazed a path. And most important, they gave their lives serving their country and must be honored like anyone else on Memorial Day.”

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Supreme Court: Michigan affirmative action ban OK

    A state’s voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a blow to affirmative action that also laid bare tensions among the justices about a continuing need for programs that address racial inequality in America.

    April 23, 2014

  • Court critical of law punishing campaign lies

    The Supreme Court appears to be highly skeptical of laws that try to police false statements during political campaigns, raising doubts about the viability of such laws in more than 15 states.

    April 23, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia has ‘days, not weeks’ to follow by an international accord for Ukraine

    Russia has “days, not weeks” to abide by an international accord aimed at stemming the crisis in Ukraine, the top U.S. diplomat in Kiev warned Monday as Vice President Joe Biden launched a high-profile show of support for the pro-Western Ukrainian government. Russia in turn accused authorities in Kiev of flagrantly violating the pact and declared their actions would not stand.

    April 22, 2014

  • U.S. weighing military exercises

    The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, a Western official said Saturday. The exercises would follow Russia’s buildup of forces near its border with Ukraine and its annexation last month of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

    April 21, 2014

  • Ukraine, Russia trade blame for shootout

    Within hours of an Easter morning shootout at a checkpoint manned by pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement blaming militant Ukrainian nationalists and Russian state television stations aired pictures of supposed proof of their involvement in the attack that left at least three people dead.

    April 20, 2014

  • Governor: Closing Boston amid bomber hunt ‘tough’

    Several days after the Boston Marathon bombing, Gov. Deval Patrick received a call in the pre-dawn hours from a top aide telling him that police officers outside the city had just engaged in a ferocious gun battle with the two men suspected of setting the bombs and that one was dead and the other had fled.

    April 20, 2014

  • Everest avalanche reminder of risks Sherpas face

    The rescuers moved quickly, just minutes after the first block of ice tore loose from Mount Everest and started an avalanche that roared down the mountain, ripping through teams of guides hauling gear.
    But they couldn’t get there quickly enough.

    April 20, 2014

  • Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 19, 2014

  • Everest avalanche kills at least 12

    An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving four missing in the deadliest disaster on the world’s highest peak. Several more were injured.

    April 19, 2014

  • Diplomacy doesn’t move insurgents in Ukraine

    Pro-Russian insurgents defiantly refused Friday to surrender their weapons or give up government buildings in eastern Ukraine, despite a diplomatic accord reached in Geneva and overtures from the government in Kiev.

    April 19, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads