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May 25th, 2009
08:30 AM ET

Memorial Day 2009

We'd like to hear from you.
What are your thoughts on this Memorial Day?
Are you remembering anyone special?
Share your comments here.

Filed under: Heidi Collins
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Frank J Witt

    On this Memorial Day, I am thinking of our 2 daughters actively serving in the US ARMY. Wendy (the oldest of 4 girls) in upstairs sleeping, on a 4 day weekend from Ft. Lee, near Richmond, VA while our 2nd oldest daughter Sarah is at Ft. Hood in Texas. Wendy served 16 months in Iraq attached to 101st Airborne while Sarah served in Iraq with the Military Police force from Texas. We also have a friend of Wendy's at the house and Staff Sergeant Kyle Bucalew is a friend of ours serving in Germany with the US ARMY as well.

    We wish them all well and Thank those that have passed and bless their families for their sacrifices.

    May 25, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  2. nanapat

    Just watching your show again this morning and I just have to tell you that I love your new look.. New hair color is "'great' on you and keep the new make up artist because they enhance your natural looks.. What a tremendous and positive difference is all I keep repeating.. Love It !! And you're a great news anchor as well...

    May 25, 2009 at 9:28 am |
  3. michael armstrong sr.

    the only people that are remembering fallen soldiers are past and present millitary personel to the rest of the people its just party day.

    May 25, 2009 at 9:54 am |
  4. DL

    It would be really great if today you showcase NOT JUST Caucasian Americans but perhaps, oh, an african american soldier. There are some out there by the way!!

    May 25, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  5. Sergeant First Class Stone- Iraq Vet

    Just a correction on your reporting- No such thing as "Spec First Class" in the military ranks "Sergeant First Class" is correction

    May 25, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  6. dennis lueck

    I am remembering my father today. He was a world War II vet who served with Patton in North Africa and Italy. He was a great man who did a job came home and raised 10 children. Never complained about having to work 2 jobs most of his life and always told my friends he was the richest man in the world because of his children. I am also a veteran and always will appreciate my brothers in arms for what we had to do and sacrifice

    May 25, 2009 at 10:05 am |
  7. Raven

    Enjoy the day no matter the weather, and remember why we are here. Have a great day to all. I am doing ribs on the charcoal smoker. About 20-30 people over for cookout. Fly your flag high! Be Safe!

    May 25, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  8. M

    In addition to honoring our troops and vets, I would also like to remember the heroes of 9/11 and those brave passengers on United 93. These people have come to shown such exemplary courage and self sacrifice, two values that really make this country great. They deserve an equal place in my heart along with our troops.

    – M

    May 25, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  9. shana l edwards

    There are many to remember. my husband deployed to afghanistan for 12 months. he was able to come back alive. and we was very thankful for it. there was many that didnt. my husband has suffered alot from being deployed. i think the ones that go thru the PTSD and all the other injuries they cam back with all should be remembered the way that the ones that died are.. I honor all the military passed or alive every day. they are awsome caring people that i look up to. expecially after my husband being in there and seeing and knowing all that they do... life is hard and i think the military families that are standing today are awsome also. they have fought a big fight and still are... the military and their families are my hero's!

    May 25, 2009 at 10:07 am |
  10. Noelle Roberts

    Today, I am thinking of the father I never knew. He was killed during the Normandy invasion, but not on D-day; he died on June 15, 1944 when I was 3 months old. He never saw me but once. He brought me home from the hospital the week after I was born and then he shipped out to England to await further orders. He was 33 years old.

    I learned who my father was through letters he wrote home to his family and my mother. They saved those letters for me and I was in my 30s when they were actually turned over to me. You can learn about someone based on what people tell you, but you actually learn who they are through their own writings. My father, PFC Hardy P. Moore was a very special person and as grow older, I look forward to meeting him one day in Heaven.

    And, by the way, I like the lighter shade of red – it brings out your beautiful blue eyes! Have a great day!

    May 25, 2009 at 10:09 am |
  11. Katie

    I am not remembering anyone in particular. Just the 116,516 men who died in WWI, and go without a memorial in the National Mall even today. If I don't remember them, who else will?

    May 25, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  12. Bernadette Loesch

    Dear Heidi, I'm sitting here watching and listening to these heart rendering stories of people who have died in war. I think that we are missing the point of today. We should not only be remembering these individuals but talk about the need to stop war which kills people and destroys families. Why in the world would we want to send anyone to kill others?

    May 25, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  13. Michael Reynolds

    I am remembering a few people in my family that have gone before, only one of which ever served in the military, my Father, who always told me that war was indeed hell , and that I should do everything possible to avoid fighting in one. Words of advice that I've always taken to heart. My Grandmother, who lived to be ninety three years old, and who was the only real Christian I've ever met. My Mother who spent an entire lifetime looking for happiness and I'm not sure if she ever really found it. Most recently, my Aunt, who lived a long and very interesting life, and in the end made it possible for my Wife and I to live the rest of our lives comfortably. Only one of these fondly remembered loved ones ever served their country and it galls me when Memorial Day is only meant to honor warriors in the minds of so many people!

    May 25, 2009 at 10:13 am |
  14. Fred

    Good coverage of Memorial Day. However, it was spoiled by the ignorance of the CNN staff: An SFC is a Sergeant First Class, not a Specialist First Class. Doesn't anyone on the CNN staff have any military background?

    May 25, 2009 at 10:17 am |
  15. Michael L

    I just watched your Memorial Day presentation. I was moved by how you reacted and were visibly touched. You are a true professional.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:20 am |
  16. Marie Ortleib

    This Memorial Day has overwhelming meaning to my husband Dale
    & I. Our dear friends Harry & Mary Beth Okray lost their son, Spc. Stephen M. Okray, on Christmas Eve of 2008. Stephen was 21 years old and
    bigger than life. He had piercing blue eyes, loved to laugh, loved his family, a daredevil and died doing what he loved. Our feelings
    over this loss are still so raw. Does it ever get better? We can only hope. Stephen is truly, truly missed. God Bless you Stephen! Rest in Peace!

    May 25, 2009 at 10:20 am |
  17. Charlie Erickson

    Memorial Day Reflections

    All of my grandmother’s sons, served in World War II
    All of my mother's sons, served in Viet Nam
    All of my grandmother's sons are now gone, as is one of my mother's sons
    These two women I knew, who also are gone, gave huge parts of themselves
    All for the nation they loved
    I thought the time would not come again, except for a planetwide war
    Yet I turn on the news and hear again of the mothers, who've given huge parts of themselves
    All for the nation they love
    A new era, new war, yet it all stays the same
    Just with a different name

    Thank you to all of the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, friends and lovers, who've given big parts of themselves. Thank you to all who have served, in the many years that've gone by. It's an honor for me, to be in such company. It's now been more than 40 years, since I first donned the uniform.
    Thank you to all who currently serve, and thank you in advance, to those yet to come.
    Let us now bow our heads to enormously thank, and to remember all of those who once bore the burden, on this day of dedication and reflection. Let us honor those who once wore the uniform, and who can now only speak from the past.
    Have a thankful, reflective, and a safe Memorial Day weekend, to all.

    Charlie Erickson SGT U.S. Army 1968 – 1971

    A Family of Servicemen

    Henry Erickson – Eric Erickson – George Erickson – John Hufford

    Bob Erickson – Harvey Erickson – Charlie Erickson – Steve Erickson – Hank Erickson

    David Erickson

    May 25, 2009 at 10:22 am |
  18. David Hinton

    As an American who has lived in Canada for nearly two decades, I am able to focus on why Memorial Day is commemorated. Both countries are doing important work in many theatres of war. Take the time to remember those who have fallen, those who serve and to pray for a time when their proud service will no longer be necessary.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  19. sherry garcia

    memorial day

    a day to honor
    a day to cry
    a day to heal
    a day for pride.

    a day to pray
    a day to give praise
    a day to be thankful for
    a day they gave.

    a day for those who fought
    a day for fthose they left behind
    a day for loved ones to remember
    a day for all those we lost.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  20. Tim - Nashville, TN

    Today we, as individuals, owe a day of remembrance to the soldiers who have died in military service for this country, and we, as a country, owe it to them and their families to find a better way to solve our problems.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  21. Peaches of Charlotte

    To my first born (SSGT Walter Russell) now serving in Iraq we all Love You, Miss You and looking forward to seeing You real soon

    May 25, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  22. James

    I would like to extend my appreciation for all soldiers who have served to defend our country; especially those who have not returned. Most specifically, I would like to honor my cousin, Lance Corporal Daniel Ryan Bennett, killed in Afghanistan January 11, 2009. You are loved and missed, and will never be forgotten.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  23. Peace

    I had the great honor to visit Arlington Cementary few years ago. I felt sad but also a great deal of peace and appreciation for what I personally know is a great deal of courage. I was watching your segment about TAPS and what they do for the children of falling soldiers what a great job. My husband (Army Reserve) fortunately when to Iraq and return home; but even after his return there is still silent wounds and a lot of issues that I don't feel the Army provides enough resources to help. Active Army family receive a lot of support but how about the reserve families?

    May 25, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  24. Edgardo Ramos MSG USA (RET)

    I am remembering my 4 soldiers that were killed in Iraq in 2003. Thinking about them and the last day we spent together the day before they pass away. Also thinking about their families.

    Master Sergeant Edgardo Ramos
    US Army (RET)
    Iraqi Freedom 2003
    Fort Sill Oklahoma

    May 25, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  25. Jeff Tytel

    Thank a Veteran today....thank their family....every step of freedom I take I thank a veteran. Thank you for the toughness, tenacity and your supreme sacrifice. And to their families, we love you and we want to say:
    They did not sacrifice in vain.

    Thank you on this Memorial Day

    May 25, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  26. Sharon

    To paraphrase a poet from another time and another war:

    How many deaths will it take till we know that too many people have died. The answer is blowin' in the wind.

    Thank you to all the service personnel, their families and friends for their service and sacrifices

    May 25, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  27. Stephen B.

    My thoughts today... I'm remembering being at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon when it fell. The sound of the helicopters, the sight of the people who were trying so desperately to get out with us. And I'm remembering the friends I left behind – the ones who died there. As I cook my spare ribs today, and mix the potato salad, I'm remembering that because other soldiers gave their lives to protect me and their other comrades, I'm here today to enjoy this day with my daughter and her husband. I get to spend this day with my family because of their sacrifice. I'm thinking of their families, who are remembering today that moment when they received the news that their son or husband or father or brother would not be coming home to them.

    Most of all, I'm remembering a guy who literally gave his life to save mine, and that of another member of our platoon. I won't retell the story – I can't. It hurts too much. But Frank, know that we remember, and know that we love you, and that we're grateful for what you did. If not for you, my daughter would not even exist...

    May 25, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  28. Megan Boesen

    Thank you for this opportunity to remember our troops.

    I remember the fallen, who made the Ultimate Sacrifice for their country, and for their family and friends (the "unofficial enlistees" of OIF/OEF). I thank my siblings for their service in the active Army & Army National Guard, and I worry about their safe return from their multiple deployments, which have been ongoing for the last 5 years, and continue to this day. I thank our Veterans past and present, for doing that which others would or could not do. Lastly, I hope that as a means to an end, we can find other options than combat to solving our world's disagreements and objectives.

    Major Stephen Boesen
    Major Chris Hanna
    Major Kathryn Hanna (Ret.)
    Captain Joshua Boesen
    Second Lieutenant Jason Boesen
    And all of our country's soldiers

    Most Sincerely,
    Megan Boesen
    Minneapolis, Minnesota

    May 25, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  29. Janet Monti

    My son, SFC Jared C Monti, was KIA 6-21-06m, Gowardesh Afghanistan, when his unit came under attack. He was killed while trying to reach a wounded soldier, even though he had been wounded during the attempt to try move him to a covered position. It was his second tour with the 10th Mountain Division. One cannot put into words the grief and loss military families go through. Those of us who have lost a loved one are bonded in a way that cannot be expressed, we are a "club" that no family member should have to belong. Thank you, Heidi, for allowing us to express our thoughts and feelings this Day.

    Janet E. Monti
    Proud Gold Star Mother of SFC Jared C. Monti

    May 25, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  30. Charles & Ann Dumas

    First of all-as a vet, child of a vet, married to a family of vets, I think it is a wonderful show you are doing to honor our fallen heroes on Memorial Day. Bravo! But there is a correction you listed the first celebration as in Waterloo New York. Au contraire. It was in Boalsburg in 1864. Details from the website:
    History of Memorial Day:
    It was an early fall day in 1864 when Emma Hunter and her friend, Sophie Keller, picked flowers and went to the old cemetery to lay them on the grave of Emma’s father, Reuben Hunter. Dr. Hunter was a young Boalsburg doctor at the time of the Civil War. When he volunteered to serve with the Army of the North, he was assigned to the hospital in Baltimore. In addition to attending the wounded soldiers, he also cared for the men who had contracted yellow fever while fighting in the southern swamplands. Dr. Hunter became ill and died of yellow fever and his body was buried in the Boalsburg cemetery.

    On their way the two young girls met Mrs. Elizabeth Myers whose young son, Amos, had been killed the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg and was buried in the old cemetery.

    Photo right: Civil War re-enactors fire a salute at the Boalsburg Memorial Day Service as Boy Scouts watch.

    Learning where the girls were going, Mrs. Myers asked to join them. They shared the flowers and placed them on both graves. It was decided then that they would meet the following year with flowers for all who had died in the Civil War. The three young women told their friends of the plans and when the day came ‘round, most of the villagers joined them.

    From that simple beginning came the observance of Memorial Day in Boalsburg. Every year since then, the people have met on the Diamond in Boalsburg Square for the walk to the old cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of all the soldier dead. They are led by a home town band and all ages join in the walk and participate in the simple service of remembering.
    (Return to top)

    May 25, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  31. Clayton P. Farnsworth

    In the late 70's, I served in the Old Guard. There are really no words to explain the feeling's one has when he or she walk's among the Hero's.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  32. Scott Stodden

    Hey Heidi I love you on CNN, you truly are one of the greatest news anchors ever. On this Memorial Day 2009 I'd like to remember all the troops that are in Iraq & Afghanistan, there is not enough thank you's in the world that can express my gratitude for the men & women serving our country. This world this year is a trying time for the American troops with fighting a war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the troops serve this country with bravery and courage, so we honor all troops, men & women on this Memorial Day 2009 and my condolences go out to all the heroes who lost there life in a time of war, one day we will all in this world reach peace. Happy Memorial Day 2009, we love the troops.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport, Il)

    May 25, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  33. Bob Sloan

    My Grandson is on active duty with the US Navy. He is in Harms Way this memorial Day also. Although he is not in a declared "War Zone", he is at sea off the coast of South America. H eand his fellow Sailors are part of a Task Force that has the responsibility of seeking and stopping drug trafficking on those waters. Not a declared war zone, but definitely in harms way. God Bless him and all Those in the Military.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  34. Charles & Ann Dumas

    Bravo for your Memorial Day program. As a vet, child of a vet married to a family of vets I am most appreciative of the honor you show to our fallen comrades. But I must disagree on the origin of the "holiday" It was not in Waterloo, NY but if Boalsburg, PA. The story from the website:

    History of Memorial Day:
    It was an early fall day in 1864 when Emma Hunter and her friend, Sophie Keller, picked flowers and went to the old cemetery to lay them on the grave of Emma’s father, Reuben Hunter. Dr. Hunter was a young Boalsburg doctor at the time of the Civil War.

    On their way the two young girls met Mrs. Elizabeth Myers whose young son, Amos, had been killed the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg and was buried in the old cemetery. Learning where the girls were going, Mrs. Myers asked to join them.

    From that simple beginning came the observance of Memorial Day in Boalsburg. Every year since then, the people have met on the Diamond in Boalsburg Square for the walk to the old cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of all the soldier dead.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  35. Madeline

    I'd like to remember my Father this Memorial Day, Pvt. 1st Class Guido Maggi, Jr. He served in the Marine Corps. in World War II in Okinawa. A bomb blast sent him home with a medical discharge, but he was never the same. Unfortunately, we didn't have the kind of counseling for PTSD that we have today. He was very proud to be a Marine, and watching him die of cancer at age 47, I realized he was the bravest man I ever knew.
    Rest in Peace, Dad.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  36. C. Younger

    Today is an extremely emotional day for me, as it is not only Memorial Day but is also my beloved son's birthday. He is a Navy corpsman, combat medic assigned to the 7th Marines and is currently serving in Iraq. As I endure relentless fear and sleepless nights, I sometimes feel as though I have been sent to war along with him. The courage and sacrifice of our military men and women has become real to me as never before. May God bless and protect them all.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  37. Karen Reynolds

    my Memorial Day senryu

    memorial day
    he leaves a flag
    she leaves a stone

    May 25, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  38. Charlie Brusovich Jr.

    Highest gratitude to the soldiers and their families who have
    shouldered the burden of protecting our freedoms, highest ideals, and goal of a just, free, peaceful world. You cannot be forgotten
    as the existence of free people everywhere is your enduring living

    May 25, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  39. Emily Rosamond

    I would like to say that I appreciate Memorial Day more and more each year. I am a nurse at VA Nursing Home in Ms and I could never thank the guys I take care of enough. They are my reason for going to work each day. Thanks to all the vets for what you have done.

    Love my vets at the Kosciusko Ms VA Home

    Emily Rosamond

    May 25, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  40. Howard Shapiro

    We are blessed to live in the United States of America, "land of the free, home of the brave", made so only because of the ultimate sacrifice made by men and women who paid the ultimate price on our behalf.

    On this and every Memorial Day, if not every day, we have a responsibility, in fact an obligation, to remember in appreciation and with the greatest respect, all those who gave their lives so that we here in America and those who long for freedom in other lands around the world would be able to enjoy the ultimate privilege of living as free people.

    God bless them and their families and God bless the United State of America.

    The Shapiro Family
    Hollywood, Florida

    May 25, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  41. Ann Exline Starr, Hockessin Delaware

    My dad, Ralph Exline, volunteered for service in the Army during WWII in 1943, after his junior year in college. Since he was brilliantly smart, he was diverted to a special military training program in German immersion, to serve as a member of the occupation government in Germany, following the inevitable fall of Hitler. He lived and worked in a German village setting, speaking only German and becoming acculturated to the German way of life. He did not get to serve in that capacity, since the Army ran out of infantry soldiers and he was sent to France in 1944. While there, he did earn the bronze star with valor, for saving all of the soldiers in his platoon from a German onslaught.

    WWII was a defining experience for my dad's generation. He was one of the "Great Generation" and he went on to finish college, obtain a Masters' degree and a PhD in Psychology, becoming a Professor and Dept Chair at the University of Delaware, for 40 years. My mom has always said that at every faculty party, the men would discuss the University, politicis and ALWAYS end the evening by sharing experiences about the war. I would like to honor his memory this Memorial Day.

    May 25, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  42. Kimberly Woods

    On this Memorial Day I am Remembering my Grandpaw (Albert Lee Woods) He severd in WWII along with his brother, my Uncle Jake, My uncles Bill, Gene,and Ricky who are also vets. I have family and many friends that are military families that are serving to protect our country.

    May 25, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  43. Maurice B. Gray

    On this Memorial Day the best way to honor the memories of those who served and those who died. Is to take care of the wounded who have survived the present wars, and the families of those fallen on the battle field. As an immigrant to this great country, I will always respect
    the sacrifice of these great men and women.

    May 25, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  44. Kimberly Woods

    I would also like more info on the vets wall that the 91 year old that is makeing sure that verts names are listed...I would like to make sure my grandpaw and uncles are listed and if not get them listed on there...thank you so much and your help would be greatful!!

    May 25, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  45. Lloyd Madansky

    Today I remember my friend, Sam Corbin. He and I met at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in 1966 and were together throughout our tour of duty in Pleiku, Vietnam. While he died just a few years ago in Az, I cannot help to beliefe that he was killed in Vietnam, it just took him 30 plus years to die. He needs to be remembered.

    May 25, 2009 at 11:27 am |
  46. Doris Darlene Lindsey

    Today, as every Memorial Day, I am remembering my two brothers—Wallace and Richard Albers. They were killed in battle, during the Second World War, and they and lie in the Pacific Ocean. Wallace was in the Merchant Marines and Richard was in the Navy.
    Three brothers went in and only one (in the Army) survived.
    I remember a brave mother and three stars in the window,—
    two gold and one blue.
    We have no Memorial with a name on it, only on the back of my parents' gravestone. No bodies were brought back from the ocean.
    I am 75 years old, and yes I remember them, and I am thankful to them and to God for my freedom.
    I pray that it will be forever free for generations to come. As it says on a blanket that the "Veterans of Foreign Wars" sent to us:
    "Freedom is not Free".— Mrs. Doris (Albers) Lindsey

    May 25, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  47. Purple Spider

    Instead of fighting and bickering about the Democrats and the GOP and what the Obama Adminstration is doing or not doing, how about focusing on what Memorial Day represents? Instead of 24/7 parties and barbecues, how about thinking of the countless men and women who have given their lives for this country, so we could have freedom as Americans?

    May 25, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  48. Steven L. DeCoteau

    Memorial Day is a day to remember men and women who fought to keep the world free. I have many heros in my family. I have many uncles who fought in WW II and these guys were my heros. One of my uncles (Roderick DeCoteau) fought in WW II then re-enlisted to go to the Korean conflict. He was given a furlough and on leave for a couple weeks but got sick and never went back. Well now he is considered a deserter and the military will not recognize his honors of WW II. They don't put a flag on his grave on memorial day as far as they are concerned he is a deserter not a war hero. He very seldom talked about the war but when he did I can understand why a lot of men and women are scarred for life. The mental effect from war have to be painful for as long as he lived. My uncle witnessed his friends and soldiers die in his arms and blown up along side him. My uncle died a violent death, he was hit by a drunk driver while walking on a country road. My uncle Roderick was my hero and will always be my hero.
    Is there any place I can get more information about soldiers like my uncle? I would like to have the military give my uncle recognition for his part in WW II.

    Steve DeCoteu

    May 25, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  49. Michael Gregory


    Listen closely, let us hear,
    Silent voices making sound.
    Those we've come to hold so dear,
    Took their stand on fallen ground.

    T'was our precious lives we gave
    For our home from sea to sea.
    Died so freedom might be saved,
    And for you.......a legacy.

    Will you hear our call and heed?
    And for others learn to live?
    Won't you learn how to receive,
    Only as you choose to give?

    Take each other by the hand?
    Let your hearts and deeds embrace
    Freedom's gift throughout the land?
    Fight good fights? Run the race?

    Freedom's gift and freedom's price,
    Surely you will come to claim.
    Legacy will then suffice,
    And we'll not have died in vain.

    Let theirs be our legacy,
    As to God we pray and sing:
    Bless our land from sea to sea,
    Let Your precious freedom.......ring!

    Michael gregory
    United States Marine Corps
    Vietnam War Veteran

    May 25, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  50. C.H. Swenson

    I've been thinking about a way we can better-honor and memorialize our fallen verterans. It entails taking better care of our wounded veterans, many still with us because of heroic actions in combat by the dead. We're all aware of the horror-stories about wounded Vets having to struggle to get their VA benefits; losing their homes; being misdiagnosed for treatment; etc. At the same time, I acknowledge the efforts of so many doctors, nurses, caregivers, and even most of the VA workers who are caring for the wounded and trying to reduce the huge backlogs of benefit claims from Vets.

    Here's a way the VA could more efficiently and effectively serve our wounded Vets: Augment the person-power and brainpower of the VA through recruiting volunteer (and even paid) retired military and civilian folks with management, administrative, medical, etc., skills to work as field "case-officers" to assist wounded Vets expedite their way thru the bureaucratic morass of obtaining their benefits. There are thousands-and -thousands of us throughout the country. Every Federal agency knows who we are, where we are, and what our skill-sets are The USG doesn't even need to contact us first. It would be easy for the Feds to get the word out that such a program has been initiated, and we would contact them.

    Chris, Bonita Springs, FL

    May 25, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  51. David

    I am thinking of the soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, their families and friends, loved ones. It is totally right that we honor their service and their lives and our hearts go out to them on this Memorial Day and to the soldiers, the men and women who are serving in those places now. As your guest, Bill White said, we love, and we look forward to them coming home as soon as possible.

    To all of those men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the military, thank you for serving your country. It truly is appreciated and you are thought of every day.

    Thank you for your honest and beautiful coverage of Memorial Day and for the chance to post my comments.

    May 25, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  52. Michael Reynolds

    Correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't Memorial Day used to be a day when we honored and remembered ALL of those who lived and passed away? When did It change to only honoring those who served in the military, isn't that what Veteran's Day used to be for?

    May 25, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  53. Michael Reynolds

    Correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't Memorial Day used to be a day for honoring and remembering ALL of our loved ones who have passed on? Not just those who have been in the military?
    I thought that's what Veteran's Day was for.

    May 25, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  54. Ed Nielsen

    With Memorial Day 2009 upon us, I am writing this to draw attention to three little known
    sailors of both Mills and Pottawattamie counties in Iowa, and of their supreme sacrifice for their country;
    two of those names are forever etched onto the Pottawattamie County’s Veterans Plaza walls
    located in Council Bluffs, Iowa
    First, an introduction; my name is Edward Nielsen, and I was born and raised
    in Council Bluffs Iowa, graduated in 1971 from Abraham Lincoln High and enlisted in the Navy in 1975.
    Shortly after basic training, I volunteered for duty in the
    Submarine Service. I retired from the Navy in 2002 after 26 years of service onboard
    five different submarines and four submarine shore support assignments. I am now employed
    by the Department of the Navy as a civil servant at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base
    in Georgia.
    A chance meeting occurred in April of 1982 while I was stationed in Pearl Harbor,
    Hawaii on shore duty. I was in attendance at a retirement ceremony, where,
    at the reception that followed I was introduced
    to an older gentleman whose name was C.W. Kuykendall. He told me that he had
    served onboard a submarine during World War II, and that he was the lone survivor of its’
    sinking and had been taken prisoner by the Japanese in early 1944. He asked me
    where my hometown was, and at my reply, he asked if I knew where Pacific Junction, Iowa
    was. He stated that one of his lost shipmates was from P.J., and upon
    his release after the war, he made it his sole mission to visit every one of
    his lost shipmates’ families to tell them what had happened. He never told me the
    name of the lost submarine, or the name of his lost shipmate from Pacific Junction,
    but I never forgot Mr. Kuykendall’s name. That introduction stuck in my mind for over
    25 years, and last year I decided to find out just who that lost sailor from Pacific Junction was.
    My investigation took me to many websites and research through many
    books. The information that I found about that sailor from Pacific Junction
    also led me to two other sailors from Council Bluffs.
    Kirk Comstock Stearns was born on July 3, 1922. He lived
    with his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. John Clark of Glenwood and
    graduated from Glenwood High School with the class of 1940, enlisting
    in the Submarine Service of the U.S. Navy shortly thereafter. He served onboard
    the USS S-28 for nearly two years, and saw extensive action before
    being transferred to the Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut in 1942.
    From New London, Electricians Mate, First Class Stearns transferred to the west
    coast and was assigned to the newly commissioned submarine USS Tullibee (SS-284).
    On her fourth war patrol, Tullibee departed Pearl Harbor on 5 March 1944, and her mission
    was to take part in ‘Operation Desecrate’, a carrier-air strike at Palau scheduled
    for 30 March. On the night of 26 March 1944, she conducted a night surface
    attack on three Japanese merchant ships. After firing two torpedoes,
    a tremendous explosion rocked the Tullibee, sending the boat’s bridge party
    overboard. Mr. C.W. Kuykendall was one of those three bridge personnel
    thrown overboard and USS Tullibee sank within minutes. One of the two torpedoes
    fired by Tullibee had made a circular run and had came back at the submarine and sank it.
    Mr. Kuykendall was found the next morning and taken prisoner by the Japanese, where he
    spent the remainder of the war working in the Ashio copper mines. Only after
    his release at war’s end did the Navy find out what exactly happened to
    the USS Tullibee. Kirk Stearns left behind a wife, Jacqueline Godsey Stearns of Pacific Junction.
    Vernon Palmer Wall was born on September 11, 1922, the son of Henry and Edna Wall,
    and his last given address was 3709 2nd Avenue, Council Bluffs. The Wall family has a very storied
    past in both Iowa and Nebraska history. Motor Machinist’s Mate, First Class Wall was
    a member of one of the most famous WWII submarines; the USS Seawolf (SS-197).
    Commissioned on 01 December, 1939, Seawolf would complete 13 war patrols and
    win 13 Battle Stars. On her 14th war patrol, Seawolf would depart Darwin, Australia
    with 17 U.S. Army personnel on a special mission to Samar. Operating off the island
    of Manus in the Admiralty Islands, Seawolf was operating with another submarine,
    the USS Narwhal, when a Japanese submarine sank the USS Shelton (DD-407).
    The USS Rowell (DE-403), assisted by 2 TBM Avengers, sighted a submerging
    submarine and thinking it was the Japanese, marked the spot with
    dye markers. The converging US vessels made an attack with deadly
    Hedge Hogs, sinking what assuredly was Japanese but in fact turned out to be
    the USS Seawolf. All hands were lost.
    Boyd Dee Smith’s last given address was 2017 Avenue A, Council Bluffs. I have
    been unable to find both a date and place of birth for Boyd Smith. On October 6, 1943,
    Radio Technician Second Class Boyd Dee Smith departed New London, Connecticut
    on the newly commissioned USS Dorado (SS-248) in route to the Panama Canal, eventually
    in transit to her new home port in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A Navy Board of Inquiry was unable
    to reach a definite conclusion as to the loss of the USS Dorado, but the most likely cause
    of her demise revealed that a patrol plane from Guantanamo Bay delivered a surprise attack
    on October 12, 1943, dropping 3 depth charges on an unidentified submarine. USS Dorado
    was lost with 77 officers and men. Boyd Dee Smith left behind a wife, Evelyn Louise Smith
    of Council Bluffs.
    Fifty Two U.S. Submarines were lost during World War II; one in seven submarine
    sailors would lose their lives during the war; one of the highest casualty rates
    of any service. Council Bluffs can be extremely proud of the Pottawattamie
    Veterans Plaza; I went to the memorial alittle over 2 years ago during a visit
    back to Council Bluffs. After viewing the names of those who made the supreme
    sacrifice, I now at least have a glimpse of the lives behind two of those names.
    With many veterans of World War II passing on (and even those of the Korean
    and Vietnam Wars), and with less than one percent of the total U.S. population
    actively serving in the military, now, more than ever we should remember and
    celebrate Memorial Day, 2009.

    May 25, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  55. Tim Smith (Nephew of Boyd Dee Smith)

    To the person (Ed Nielsen) looking for the birth date of Boyd Dee Smith lost on the submarine please contact me at


    Tim Smith

    August 29, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  56. Mary

    Ed Nielsen...I know this is very late but thank you for your post. Kirk Stearns was my cousin. John and Ethel Clark were my parents.

    January 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm |

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