Veterans


This Saturday is Veterans Day. Our Post will again be marching in Saturday’s parade at 9:30am.

I’m sometimes asked why I bother to get dressed up in a shirt and tie, put on my cover and march in the cold (and sometimes rain or snow.)

To be honest, I don’t enjoy marching. Not because of the weather or the distance or the time from my day it requires (which isn’t a lot anyway.) It’s because the crowds lining the streets applaud us (the Sons) as much as they do the Veterans who march. We don’t come close to deserving that kind of recognition, but all they see is the Flag and men wearing covers and I think they assume we’re Veterans as well. I know too well just what kind of sacrifice Veterans have made and it makes me uncomfortable to be mistaken for one.

But, I march anyway. I march because there are a lot of men who never came back. Men who never had the sons they thought they would. And since those sons will never have a chance to march and honor their fathers, this Saturday morning I’ll hoist a flag or help carry a banner or just try to stay in step with my fellow Sons.

I’d love it if you’d come downtown and join me in honor the brave men and women who’ve defended our country. The parade starts at the intersection of Michigan and Division Avenue and runs south to Fulton and then goes east to Veterans Park. We step off at 9:30am.

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On the evening of June 6, 1944, after Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, losing 2500 men killed and some 8500 wounded, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the following prayer while addressing the nation by radio:

My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

Franklin D. Roosevelt – June 6, 1944

An audio clip of FDR's radio address can be found here.

UPDATE:

Lots more great posts on D-Day over at Blackfive.

Tomorrow is the 62nd anniversary of D-Day.

Thank a vet when you see one.

Tonight was the annual Memorial Day parade through downtown Grand Rapids. We had fewer marchers than normal, and the crowds along the sidewalk weren't as big as they've been in the past. I think that was probably because of the strong thunderstorms we had this afternoon and the fact the parade was Tuesday evening rather than Monday morning.

Our route takes us south down Division Ave from the I-196 overpass to Fulton St and then into Veterans Park.

[Click to see the full size image.]

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