Thank You, Donald, George, Roy, & Milton

Not in Vain | 270mm, f/11, 1/60, ISO 200

I wanted to post this photo yesterday, but couldn’t find anything but a low-res version of it. So despite the fact that I’m a day late saying “thank you” to veterans, I think it’s better to be late, rather than not acknowledge them at all.

On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, flags and crosses are placed all along the roads near the downtown Duluth area to honor those from here who died in service. You’ll see WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietman on the crosses, signifying the war in which they lost their lives.

I love to see my country’s flag flying any time, but on these days when we’re called to remember the sacrifice of so many, it’s even more stirring and more poignant.

There was a time when wars were basically about numbers as much as about technology and the will to win, it was also who had more boots on the ground… which country could keep sending men into the machine to be ground up, until one side had no more to send. To knowingly go into that kind of carnage takes a courage that astounds me.

Now, fighting is often done at a distance, but the danger is still real with snipers, IEDs, and suicide bombers. And sometimes, I think the psychological toll might be even more impactful now than it was then… not being sure who the enemy is, not sure the motives for being in country, the “is it right”/”is it wrong” punditry that goes back and forth in the media… surely all of that is soul numbing on top of the danger.

Anyway, I’m rambling now, but I do know that Donald H. McCullars, George H. Isenhour, Roy H. Joiner, and Milton Ivy, all of Duluth once paid the ultimate price with their service. Seeing the real names of real people who once lived here where I do now makes me think of the line that Tom Hank’s character said to Matt Damon’s character in Saving Private Ryan. After all of the sacrifice that had gone into protecting him and sending him home, he stated simply, “Earn this.”

To all those who served and died, to my cousin, Petesy, who died in Vietnam, to all of the ones who served and lived, to all who are serving now… thank you.

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