A Vietnam Vet Looks At Memorial Day


Joe Belle-Isle is a Vet who sometimes visits here.  He wrote this a few years ago.   Joe, thank you for your service and thanks to Jim, Rochester Vet, and the other Vets I know who’ve added to my life.  I’m very happy you got back to help commemorate your peers who didn’t.


by Joseph Belle-Isle

When I was a kid, there was a fireworks display every Memorial Day. The adults, many of them immigrants, were CELEBRATING the fact they made it through W.W.II and the Depression. And they proudly flew the flag because they knew it symbolized the fallen soldiers who made their survival possible.

Last night I saw an old photo of one of our soldiers’ cemeteries from W.W.II. There was a sea of perfectly-aligned monuments representing our soldiers who died in battle. Of course Christians got crosses on their stones, Jewish soldiers got Stars-of-David,  Muslim soldiers got symbols of Islam, and I understand, today the VA even has symbols for Wicans and atheists.  The point is, you don’t have to be a Christian to fight and die for America.  And I kind of think that’s what the country is always fighting for: Freedom for EVERYONE.

This year, when you fire up the grill and set off the fireworks, I hope you’ll remember to bow your head for a second and think about why your kids are playing in the glow of freedom. Maybe they’re even old enough so you can explain it to them.

Today let’s CELEBRATE and enjoy America’s freedom! And please remember the Vets who made it all possible for you – and even for the people who forget why we’re celebrating.


2 Responses to “A Vietnam Vet Looks At Memorial Day”

  1. Hi Frank-There’s is something around 5,000,000,000 more people on the world now than 1950. I can remember doing something real stupid like it was this morning, now 50 years later. Joining the Army because I had to find out for myself who was right or wrong about whether the Gov. was lying to us or if hippies were traitors. I wouldn’t make the same mistake now because I found out most hippies got drafted and went, and the Government is still lying like hell to us. The damndest thing was getting out early by 2 months to go back to the same college-SUNY @ Oswego with an automatic acceptance because I had had a regents scholarship- and then being sent home with credit for the semester when kids at Kent State were shot and students from all the colleges in the country went on strike and we were sent home with credit.
    I wanted to go back to college again and sent back to oswego for credit for my years worth of credits there and they wanted my student number AND IT WASN’T MY SOC SEC NUMBER!
    EVERYTHING IN THIS COUNTRY GOES BY SOC SEC ## except my records And scholarship.
    Things get screwed up when you pass 65.
    My Mother was born in Carbondale Pa. in 1904 or 5. Worked all her life and retired from the NYS Teachers Assn., or whatever they call it and got Soc Sec. and decided to go on a trip.
    She needed a passport. They wanted her Birth Certificate that I have here somewhere. In the early 1900’s in rural Pa. they just wrote “GIRL CHILD,” ON HER BIRTH CERTIFICATE. Then she got it and took it to get her passport and the passport people said an old birth certificate like that wasn’t good enough for my 70+ year old Mom who had been through two world wars and the Great Depression. What- oh whatever could she do?
    The passport people gave her a long list of things she had to do- TO GET A ‘CERTIFICATE OF NON-DEATH.’
    My Mother was Irish, what came after that you can’t print here. I’ll just say that when my Mother wanted to talk like my Irish Grandmother, she did a damn good job.
    As far as letting 200,000 refugees into America before they make buying a gun illegal- they should have to have a Social Security Number. AND a Certificate of Non Death.

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