MEMORIAL DAY REFLECTIONS
Archived from Yahoo Boomers International Group message board
From: "Ben Lawrence Basile"
Date: Sun May 25, 2003 8:01 pm
Subject: A friend of Ben's who served talks about *Memorial Day*...
For so many of us, Memorial Day mostly means having family over, or
getting an extra day off! We often have cookouts or do something fun
There's nothing wrong with any of that, of course.
At the same time, it is a day set aside to *Remember* those who
served this country in the military and especially those who laid
down their lives for the United States and for our liberty.
I drive a cab for a living and I am a co-mod of a yahoo group about
Taxi-driving and the Cab Business. One of the members of that group
is Mike Cone. Mike is a long-time employee of the company that I
drive for. He drove the streets for many years and then became a
safety investigator for Yellow Cab/City Cab of Orlando.
He is also a Marine Corps veteran of the Viet Nam war and a good
friend. And I have the extremely good fortune of being married to
his daughter Stacey.
He posted this originally on our mssg board over
at "YellowCabNightShift" but it seemed so important to me that I
decided to run it here too.
When Memorial Day comes around each year, it is often easier to
think of the burgers and hot dogs or the long holiday weekend ONLY
and forget the actual purpose of the day; here's something that
might help you see things in perspective. Please give it a read.
If, after you've read this, you'd like to "say" anything to Mike,
here's how you can. He doesn't know I'm doing this, but here goes!
Mike's e-mail addy is:
We truly do owe Mike and all vets a debt we can never really repay.
Especially those who didn't make it back. What we CAN do is
say "thank you". And I hope that you will. I'll bet each one of you
knows someone a lot like Mike...
Ben Basile, remembering those who served on this Memorial Day...
Now that message from Mike Cone, a Marine Corp veteran of the Viet
--- In email@example.com, "mikecone2002"
At the shop tonight I was talking with my daughter Stacey and ended
up listening to a driver's complaint about how Memorial day was not
good for business. I have recently returned from a Viet Nam Vets
reunion and thoughts of "my time in hell" are in the front of my
mind quite a lot these days.
I know memorial day is a rough day for you guys but it's a rough day
for me as well. It's a day of remembering.
Remembering can be curse when you've spent years trying to forget.
It's even worse when you get mad at yourself for not being able to
remember. It's strange that you forget so many things you want to
remember and remember so much that you really want to forget.
I spent 11 months, 28 days in sunny Southeast Asia. I came back
physically whole. "No members missing" tag on this Marine. By the
Grace of God, good training, and just plain pure dumb luck, I
suffered no more than a slight hearing loss, a concussion or two,
and 35 years of mixed-blessing memories.
I was a lousy husband to my first two wives but I've been a good
husband to my present wife. I was a lousy father to my three
daughters and my son. I was a mediocre son to my mother, and a
reasonably successful employee to five or six employers over the
years. With these results, I consider myself as doing better than
the average bear when compared to many of my fellow veterans. The
Grace of God and luck still abound.
Memorial Day is not a day for self-evaluation or selfish thoughts.
So I turn my remembrances to other people, places, and things.
I remember heat. Heat that kept you from getting a full breath for
weeks. Heat that sapped your strength so that you were beyond
exhaustion after a minor exertion. Heat that made you tired and kept
you from sleeping. Heat that made you sweat buckets. Heat that made
you freezing cold at 70 degrees.
I remember lush green mountains that always seemed to go up not
down. I remember red earth that was sticky enough to glue a deuce
and a half in place, slippery enough to make it impossible to stand
on, and dusty enough to choke you into a coughing fit like a bad
I remember rice paddies. They could get you killed or save your
life. Dikes stop bullets but can leave you exposed if you're dumb
enough to walk on them. The water smelled of feces but was better
than not drinking at all.
I remember rain. Rain that broke the intolerable heat then never
stopped. Rain that was as gentle as silk or as stinging as a nest
of bees. Rain that let you get a good clean shower and rotted your
feet 'til they bled.
I remember a moon that shone so bright you could read a map by it. I
remember moonlight dancing on foliage that made you see nothing one
minute and imagine a host of slinking VC the next.
I'll never forget the colors of an explosion close at hand. The
white center bleeding out to a yellow ring surrounded by black
rolling smoke was beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
I remember the orange and green tracers streaking through the night,
while I prayed that none came to roost on me.
But above all this, I remember people. Faces, personalities, and
human events still crowd my days and nights with pleasure and pain.
I can remember entire conversations and events in explicit detail. I
cannot remember the names of more than a few, and I don't know why.
Shouldn't this be the other way around?
I remember the parting face of the Huey jock, who took an RPG in the
nose 100 yards after he lifted off from leaving me in a clearing. I
remember every detail of the guy who hung himself 2 weeks before he
was going back to the "world". I remember the guitar songs taught to
me by the kid from Boston, who drove a jeep over a 105 shell buried
on a dirt road and tripped the trap. I remember the quiet calm of
the guy who told me he was sorry and assured me that I would be O.K.
after he stepped on a mortar-round booby trap. All this while I
held what was left of him in my arms, and we filled him with enough
morphine to kill a horse because he was cut in half below the waist;
and we knew he wouldn't survive the slick ride back to DaNang.
Of the hundreds I knew, I kick myself for remembering so few.
Especially on this Memorial Day when I should be able to remember
each and every one. They are the ones who paid for this Memorial
This is their day. I will not spoil it by forgetting even one of
From this day forth I will carry their memory and spirit with me as
a living memorial to their sacrifice and dedication to God, country,
duty, and honor. They shall not pass gently into the night as long
as I have breath in my body.
REMEMBER, REMEMBER...For God's sake Remember!
I know I'm not alone in these feeling and to you, my Brothers in
Arms, Welcome Home!
Many thanks to you for posting this. Every American owes you guys a
debt we can never repay...
My heart-felt thanks to you and everyone who served in VN and every
war. Especially those who didn't make it home.
We WILL remember; and not on Memorial Day only...
A group on yahoo about Cab drivin' and the Taxi business: