At Myrtle Beach I saw things with both mom and dad that had a huge effect on me. They would bring me to the US Air Force Base (the bones of which are pictured above) and have me eat with the pilots and such. The base would soon close because of a decision to ditch the A-10s. Ironically, it was just now decided in 2019 to upgrade this close air support fighter especially loved by the guys on the ground.
In the speech to announce the closing, the officer said: “It’s the end.” My mom copied that out in longhand, again and again, on bits of paper that I would find later here and there, noting the context of the closing and the name and rank of the beloved speaker. The closing acted for them as the closing of an entire era that was held in living memory, but that too, they knew, would soon pass as well. “It’s the end.”
The two of them used to sit at the end of the runway when it was still military and watch the guys practice their take-offs and landings amidst fancy stuff in the air: warthogs and other jet fighters, a great show instigating lots of memories for dad in one way (surely calling to mind those who didn’t live to die another day back in WWII and the Korean War) and for mom in another way (surely calling to mind those many millions who were murdered by the Nazis).
Dad would later have some health incidents for which I was present in Myrtle Beach. Mom would die at Myrtle Beach in a place pictured above. Here’s a google-map shot of some items placed in an outdoor museum the South side of the runway, which, if you have good eyes, you can find in the picture at the top of this post:
Here’s a fantastic video with some flying action shots, including the Vought Corsair. How they’ve changed since the gull-wing Corsairs dad flew!
Both mom and dad had been through some great spiritual retreats at Mepkin Abbey in their last years. They had taken great notes and spoke glowingly of the retreat master. And for that I thank the dear Lord. “It’s the end”? No. They both learned that, in fact, as the Funeral Mass Preface has it:
Good speech, that, on Memorial Day, at Arlington National Cemetery. An even greater speech, also at Arlington, but on Veterans Day, Armistice Day, follows:
Long before this, way back in the day, Ronald Reagan narrated this original pieces of General George Patton. Note that the first thing he does in a victory speech is to remember the fallen. Lest we forget.
I suppose I’m eccentric, but for the moments when the cemetery was empty of visitors, I drove the paths and side-paths slowly, stopping often, while letting the bagpipes belt out on the car speakers. I’m sure the angels didn’t mind. It’s quite the powerful video.
Early this morning I took a trip up to Valleytown Cemetery and cleaned up some of the more poorly taken-care-of gravestones, replanting fallen flags of the veterans. A parishioner happened by and we prayed together in the lower end of the cemetery.
Way back up top, not far from the chapel, one will see this marker above. Look closely at the dates. That’s SIXTEEN years old, folks. Sixteen. What was I doing at 16? I wasn’t laying down my life for anyone. This guy was laying down his life for us all at 16.
Do you want to know what a Gold Star family looks like? Look at the inscription on the marker of the picture below, and then look at the dates…
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.
Memorial Day is coming up. When I was a kid, my idea of a cemetery was that it was filled with people who died of old age. It was one of Ronald Reagan’s many speeches at Arlington National Cemetery which set me straight. They’re all boys, teenagers, some out of high school, some just married, all of them giving all.
In this sorry world, we are all of us living on borrowed time bought and paid for. We must be thankful.
Meanwhile, Jesus, lays down His life to bring us to eternal life. He stood in our place, the innocent for the guilty, mercy bought and paid for in His own justice. We must be thankful. Humbly thankful.
Meanwhile, did you notice all the crosses in the cemetery? Can you pick out the Stars of David? I see two.
Before Mass at Noon we all marched outside and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, as is the custom on this Memorial Day, we raised the flag which had been at half mast in honor of the fallen heroes, and then quickly raised at Noon to honor their achievements for the country and the world. I was sopping wet under the vestments, as I had just been to the cemetery. It was raining. But, you’ll hear about that. And about this 16 year old…
That kind of brings it home. You’ll hear about that…
This is called serving under the flag. It is an honor. The highest in any country. It still is in these USA despite those who hate us within and outside of our borders. Thanks for serving. The following picture shows that we can forget even while we are remembering. Shame on us…
Our little memory thing is rubbish if we merely say “Oh, what great heroes we honor!” Instead, as one Vet told me, if we really want to honor those who have borne honor in their lives and deaths, we strive to take their example of service to our fellow man. We begin by taking a stand.