As thoughts turn to the holiday weekend, we at the Sand Paper urge everyone to take time to remember the reason for Memorial Day, the fallen service members of our nation. The article below, produced by The American Legion in 2017 and edited for length to appear here, says it all so clearly, we’re sharing it with our readers today:
A mother’s pain. One of the most painful scars of war is inflicted not on the veteran but on the people who love that veteran.
John Hunter Wickersham was a 28-year-old doughboy who understood the anguish that his mother felt. The final stanza of his poem, “The Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat,” reads:
“And, fellows, she’s the hero of this great, big ugly war,
And her prayer is on the wind across the flat,
And don’t you reckon maybe it’s her tears, and not the rain,
That’s keeping up the patter on your old tin hat?”
The day after he wrote the poem, Second Lieutenant Wickersham was severely wounded in four places by a high explosive shell while he was serving with the Army’s 353rd Infantry Regiment near Limey, France. Before receiving aid for himself, he addressed the wounds of his orderly. Despite a severe loss of blood, Lieutenant Wickersham then continued to advance upon the enemy and fired his revolver with his left hand due to the wounds on his right. Finally, on September 12, 1918, John Hunter Wickersham, exhausted and bloodied, fell on the field of battle. For his gallantry, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Wickersham’s poem was about mothers, but it could just as easily have described the heart ache of a wife, daughter or sister. It could easily have described the anguish of a father, son, brother or husband who have felt the loss of the one million American heroes who have died for their country while serving in wars from the American Revolution to the current War on Terrorism.
It is these heroes that we remember on Memorial Day.
Lieutenant Wickersham made the Supreme Sacrifice in a war that America entered over a century ago. It was supposed to be “the war to end all wars.”
Tragically, it wasn’t.
Long after the battlefield guns have been silenced and the bombs stop exploding, the children of our fallen warriors will still be missing a parent. Spouses will be without their life partners. Parents will continue to grieve for their heroic sons and daughters that died way too early.
And that sacrifice is often made as service members perform humanitarian missions that benefit innocent civilians in far off lands. Captain Mary Therese Klinker was a flight nurse assigned to Clark Air Base in the Philippines when her C-5A Galaxy crashed outside of Saigon. She was evacuating Vietnamese orphans. The mission was called Operation Babylift and Captain Klinker died for her country at age 27.
Our fallen have given what Lincoln called their “last full measure of devotion.” They did it to serve America. They did it to serve us.
May God bless them and may God bless all who remember them.
Editor, Island Sand Paper