Memorial Day weekend gatherings at the krewe’s hangout are bittersweet.
Members are all about the same age. Like most of their generation they knew or knew of someone KIA In Vietnam.
Relatives, neighbors, classmates, roommates, coworkers, fellow military personnel — recalling them on this holiday weekend is both joyful and heartbreaking.
The Marine, who insists there are no ex-Marines though it’s been more than a half century since he lugged a 50-caliber through jungle, lowlands and highlands, would have trouble holding a Daisy Red Ryder steady, but a Marine he remains.
And he is saddened by the fact that many today cannot recall, probably never knew, names of bitterly contested sites in his war.
Hundreds of thousands of men and women wore the nation’s uniforms in Vietnam; about 58,200 of them died there.
Their names, as surely you know, are recorded on a memorial wall in Washington, DC. Among those names are almost 40,000 age 22 or younger when they died.
About 1,000 of them lost their lives in their first day of action; another 1,500 were killed on what was scheduled to be their last day in country.
The Marine’s point is that the roll call of Vietnam losses is no more or no less honorable or tragic than that of all the nation’s other wars.
Freedom, indeed, isn’t free.