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Most of us have lived through several wars...World War I, World War II, Korea (although it was called a "conflict" or "police action", it looked like a war to us), Viet Nam (a tragedy to end all tragedies), and Desert Storm. None of these wars have touched the shores of the Continental United States, nor have any foreign countries invaded our country since the War of 1812. We have our veterans to thank for that.

WE DEDICATE THIS PAGE, WITH HONOR AND PRIDE, TO ALL THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED OR ARE CURRENTLY SERVING IN OUR ARMED FORCES

The carrier George Washington passing downtown Norfolk, VA on the Elizabeth River

WE'RE ALL FAMILIAR WITH THE RAISING OF THE FLAG ON IWO JIMA, BUT DID YOU KNOW THAT OVER 40,000 MEN LOST THEIR LIVES ON GUADALCANAL, THE BLOODIEST BATTLE OF WORLD WAR II

Many do not realize that the Coast Guard is a separate entity from the other four branches of the Armed Forces. It is under the auspices of the Department of Transportation, except during wartime, when it comes under the direction of the Department of the Navy. The Coast Guard has participated in every war listed above, honorably and valiantly.


It all started on July 4, 1776, when a red-headed Thomas Jefferson took quill pen in hand and wrote the words that were the beginning of the greatest nation on earth - The United States of America. He began...

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776 The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness...

We've often wondered how many American citizens, living in this great country and enjoying its freedoms, have ever taken the time to read these words. We also wonder how many of our elected government officials have read it - ever. These are the words that began it all. These are the words for which our veterans have fought and died.

A STORY BEHIND "TAPS"

It all began in 1862 during the Civil War when Union Army Captain, Robert Ellicombe, was with his men near Harrison's Landing, Virginia.

The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moan of a soldier who lay mortally wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention.

Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the wounded soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.

The Captain lit a lantern. Suddenly, he caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, he enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, hearbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. His request was partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for the son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate.

Out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of his dead son's uniform. This wish was granted.

This music was the haunting melody we now know as "Taps" which is used at all military funerals.

"Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lakes,
From the hills,
From the sky.
All is well,
Safely rest
God is nigh."


...and they answered in droves. These fresh-faced young men and women just out of high school or just starting college. Their country needed them, and they proudly answered the call.

THEY CAME FROM BIG CITIES

FROM SMALL TOWNS

FROM THE COUNTRYSIDE

FROM FARMS

They came from every economic background, from rich to poor. Families stood on piers and watched ships until they were no longer visible. Families stood in train stations and watched trains depart until they disappeared in the distance.

They sent their sons and daughters, husbands and fathers, brothers and friends off with hugs, tears, pride and prayers for their safe return.


These wars ended, as most do, only to start up somewhere else. The young "boys" and "girls" who went off to war came home men and women - often with a sadness in their eyes and pictures in their mind that will stay with them for a lifetime.

They were welcomed home with open arms, pride, prayers of thankfulness and tears of joy, with one possible exception. Our Viet Nam veterans were treated just a bit differently. Why? Was it because there was no decisive victory for us in Viet Nam? We did win every major battle there. These men and women were treated with derision, spat upon, looked at like they were the enemy. They were doing exactly what all our veterans did - what they were ordered to do. We hold them in as high esteem as we do all other veterans.

And, for a while, at least, things in America went back to normal.

But...somewhere families did not come to meet returning planes or ships or trains. Their loved ones didn't come home at all.


A SOLDER DIED TODAY
Originally Titled, "JUST A COMMON SOLDIER"
by A. Lawrence Vaincourt 1985
Reprinted By Permission

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he had fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, everyone.

And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened
For they knew whereof he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Bob has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Quietly going on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'tho a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are sometimes disproportionate,
To the service he gives.

While the ordinary soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It's so easy to forget them,
For it is so long ago,
That our Bobs and Jims and Johnnys,
Went to battle, but we know.

It was not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier,
Who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin, and Country,
And would fight until the end?

He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
Then we find the Soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
in the paper that might say:
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
FOR A SOLDIER DIED TODAY".

(for more works of A. Lawrence Vaincourt
go to:http//www.vaincourt.homestead.com
or go to our Navigator page for a link

PLEASE DON'T FORGET AMERICA'S VETERANS. WE OWE OUR FREEDOM TO THEM. GOD BLESS THEM, EVERY ONE.

Thank you to Bev and Bobby Padgett for contributing this page.

Click on the POW/MIA BANNER TO VISIT A TERRIFIC SITE BY ONE OF AMERICA'S VETERANS.