Memorial Day Reflections 2014

As a young girl I always loved the Memorial Day parade, the waving of the flag, the marching bands, seeing the various groups marching. It was a time of parades, hot dogs, family and friends. There was something else that seemed special to me. How everyone was so respectful of the military people who were killed in action. The pride of everyone to wave the flag of the United States of American. Reverence and pride....that is what I remember.

Memorial Day was always special because I love my Country and the men and women who gave up so much for our Great Nation. However, in May 2006 I witnessed the true meaning of Memorial Day in a personal way in Washington, DC.

My husband Jack was reunited with part of his platoon "The Wolfhounds" from Viet Nam after 39 years. Once we met with them we shared with them how each Memorial Day we would say prayers for them and their families. You see, when Jack was wounded and sent state side we had no way of contacting anyone. We had heard that the following February 1968 his platoon was involved in a large ambush and there were lots of casualties and we were not sure if any of them had survived.

This weekend we discovered that 10 brave men (The Mighty Ten) from his unit were in the ambush and killed. The group we just met after 39 years shared every detail as if it happened yesterday. I felt so honored to be among these brave men as they shared freely with us just what happened that terrible day. My heart broke for each of them and the families of those that were killed that day, February 11, 1968.

For this wonderful group of soldiers, Memorial Day and the entire weekend was to pay respect and honor ALL those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation and our freedom.

We went to the "Wall" together. How can one truly describe that moment. This band of brothers along with so many others were placing their hands over the names of their comrades they had lost to war. As our group stood there with their arms around each other and hands over the names of each of the "Mighty Ten" a silence seemed to engulf the area - you only heard the sniffles from their tears. People stopped and took pictures of the group, one lady simply stopped to pray, while another couple stood to the side with their two children and hugged each other with bowed heads, they all felt the moment was special - actually HOLY, you simply did not want to move, we were on Holy ground.

We left the "Wall" and went to Arlington National Cemetery (which is 150 years old this month) to pay our respect to Robert Hughes, one of the "Mighty Ten" who was laid to rest there, just off the corner and across the small road from President John F. Kennedy. After our time of prayer, placing his flags and reflection at the grave, I told them to look up and see that their comrade was just across the road from the President's grave. "he is still on duty," I said "watching and guarding over President and Mrs. Kennedy". "Once a soldier always a soldier" this brought us all a sense of peace.

We visited all the monuments of the fallen heros from previous wars and paying our respects at each one. In a distance we heard the roar of thousands of motorcycles that came from across our Country - its called "Rolling Thunder" they had come to pay respect to our fallen heros, it simply took my breath away.

We watched the changing of the guards and the laying of the wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A wreath is placed down the front steps every hour on the hour for 24 hours on Memorial Day. Respect, precision and silence made this a great honor to watch.

As the festivities got underway on Memorial Day near the "Wall". I was simply moved, the band played as the colors of our Nation's flag and the flags representing each military group came marching over the hill into view. There was the presentation of the colors as thousands stood at attention in silence with their hand over their heart, then the music played Amazing Grace and several patriotic songs, I know there were not many dry eyes. There were speeches and presentations and the closing prayer blessing those that gave their lives and also for their families, so beautiful and moving then closing with everyone singing God Bless America. I was so proud to be an American, words can not express the true feeling.

We ended our day at the "Wall" saying a prayer and throwing a kiss for each of them and saying "thank you for serving our great Nation, we will see you again".

If you have not been to the "Wall" I would ask you to be brave and experience it, you will be changed and blessed. It is almost like you can hear each of their voices saying "thank you for remembering us".

I have had the honor since to meet more of the Wolfhounds in Washington, DC, Texas and Georgia. In Georgia, I was able to give the family of William Joiner (one of the Mighty Ten) pictures of him taken in Viet Nam where he was smiling and holding a soda. The family was so thankful as they did not have any pictures of "Joiner" from this time. It was such an honor to personally thank this wonderful family for their sacrifice for our Nation. We all placed flags at his grave and said our own prayers of gratitude to him for his service. It was such and honor to be a part of that weekend. This weekend the "Wolfhounds" are in Alabama and I hope to re-join the group for another Memorial Day together soon.

I have had the honor and privilege to also sing and say prayers for the fallen of WWII at Normandy and at the American Lorraine Cemetery in France along with my son Greg and a group of wonderful ladies here at our church. An experience of love and gratitude to our fallen heroes that we will never forget.

I would like to share this resolution with you.

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance Resolution" was passed on December 2000. It asks that at 3PM local time all Americans "voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Tapes"

As you can see, for me Memorial Day is a special day to stop and focus on the many sacrifices made by our heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice, so I may have the great Freedoms that our Great Nation stands upon. Let us all educate others of the true meaning of Memorial Day.

God Bless You and God Bless America!

Sherry Broton
Wolfhounds Forever
May 25, 2014

Photos below are from Len Brooks, who was reunited with Jack Broton at the Wall in May of 2006.

Jack Broton (second from right)

Jack Broton (striped shirt)

Sanchez, Raye, and Broton

27th Infantry Regimental Historical Society

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