Gary Allison's Leadership Blog

Tech News30 May 2011 08:29 pm

Wanted to share with everyone a Memorial Day message from my Father to his family and friends…

Today is Memorial Day 2011.  For those veterans who have served and those active duty who still serve, this is a significant and meaningful day.  I fully understand that Memorial Day is not one dimensional, having totally different meanings depending on ones frame of reference.  Some citizens see it as a holiday–a cook out on the grill and a cold beer.  Others see it as a trip to the mall or to the lake.  For me, there has never been any ambiguity associated with this important day.  It is a day to remember all those men and women who wear or who have worn their countries uniform.  It is not so much about war and the attendant tragedy that accompanies it, but about those individuals themselves who were willing to step forward and be a part of this nation’s defense.  At least for me, when looking back, I do not so much remember all of the times, places, and events but instead those dedicated troops who were there to make that experience memorable.

Yes, Memorial Day has always been special, but this one has been extra sweet for.  My son and his family, who are from Austin, Tx., traveled here  where we linked up with my grandson who lives locally spending Saturday afternoon discussing the history of our nation, its wars, and the evolution of our military and its war fighting capabilities.  I discussed in considerable detail my own service and the thirty years spent in various locations around the world.  I placed particular emphasis on the war in Southwest Asia which was the one in which I was personally knowledgeable.  The three grandchildren, who are age 12 to 15, have a good retention ability.  It was obvious that they had a reasonably clear understanding of events as they were presented.  Since so many young people today will never personally serve in uniform, this timing offered a window of opportunity to provide some insight.

On Sunday morning, we traveled one hundreds miles south to my home town of Teague, Tx. to visit the Freestone County Veterans Memorial and my uncle Jimmy, who is 86 years of age.  As if it had all occurred yesterday, Uncle Jimmy described his experiences from WWII.  He spoke of the tremendous public support for the war effort, the individual hardships, rationing, shortages, frequent reassignments, and the ever present danger of injury and death that our determined men faced.  Men such as Uncle Jimmy are an inspiration to me.  I could easily see on the faces of the grandchildren that they had come to understand some of the sacrifices that were common to that era.

And finally, after lunch in Teague with my cousin Bill and his family, we went to the Veterans Memorial.  While not on the scale of those monuments in our nation’s capital, the people who have designed and built the monument obviously had a good understanding of historical events surrounding modern wars and a good feeling for the veterans who fought in those wars.  The monument affords great dignity to veterans of Freestone County.  The grandchildren viewed the wall and the names of veterans past and present who served.  Surrounding the wall is a ring of benches inscribed with the names of veterans and some small bits of historical information about their service.   After viewing the memorial and talking about some of those listed, we crowded around the bench dedicated to Uncle Jimmy, my deceased brother Raymond, and me taking pictures and exchanging final hugs.

And, then, the day was complete.  As we made our ways home, I felt that we had all took from this weekend something special.  While driving along, I remembered the inscription on the family bench–“freedom isn’t free-let freedom ring eternal”.  And, I thought how lucky we are as Americans surrounded by plenty and living in the land of the free.  Let us never forget our blessings.

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