Sometimes, someone comes along who u understands the real meaning of Memorial Day -- someone who has actually lived it. Jim Kearny, a facebook friend, has shared the following:
Forty-seven years ago my buddy, John Smythe Manchester, died in a rice paddy in Gia Dinh Province, South Vietnam. He was 22 years old.
John never had a cell phone or a computer or an Ipad. He never heard of Samsung or Apple or Verizon. He never texted, chatted or emailed. He never had a Facebook page or a Twitter account. He never had a pair of Nikes or Adidas. He knew we were trying to put a man on the moon, but he died before we made it. He never saw a space shuttle. He knew Ronald Reagan was an actor, but never dreamed he would become the President. He never married, never had children, never had grandchildren. His parents buried him.
His name is engraved in the black granite on the Wall in Panel 52E, Row 40.
John and I were First Lieutenants and Platoon Leaders in Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, Third Infantry (Old Guard), 199th Light Infantry Brigade. I had the 2nd Platoon and he had the 3rd.
On Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2015, I will get up at 6:00 AM and drive into DC and visit with my friend. There will be a few people there, but the crowds will not arrive until later in the day and we will be mostly alone. I don't know if he can hear me, but I talk to him as though he can in the kind of crude language that infantry soldiers use to talk to each other.
I always wonder if anyone else ever comes to talk to him. I am 70 now and I wonder how many more years I will have to visit with him and let him know that I still remember him.
John was a soldier's soldier. He and I would talk privately about our fears, but never in front of the men we were charged with leading.
I wish he had made it back. We would have been life long friends.
On Memorial Day, please spend just a moment remembering the men and women, like John, who gave their lives for our country.