May 29, 2011

Day Is Done

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

It was appropriate for Bugles Across America, a private organization which provides buglers to play "Taps" at military funerals, to be spotlighted this weekend. It grew from one man's desire to see that each veteran received this final rite of passage for his service to this great country. Not a recording but a real live person playing those 24 poignant notes. They now have 750+ men and women who volunteer to play at a veterans' funeral. What a wonderful service. Here is West Point's  History of Taps .

On this Memorial Day weekend, I remember that I have three uncles resting in Arlington National Cemetery and a cousin at Quantico. The bugler missed the ceremony for one uncle and we had a recording for my cousin.
Thomas White
Of the three uncles, Thomas White,aka Tom, the oldest of the White siblings, died during WWII. Before I was a twinkle in anyone's eye. I don't know where, somewhere in Europe, or the circumstances. No one has ever said and I'm not sure that the surviving siblings remember.

Uncle Mack and Uncle Arthur also rest at Arlington, having lived full lives. It was years before I learned that Mack was a highly-decorated veteran or even how he had come to lose his kidney and most of his hearing.

Matthew White

Here's his story:

A member of the 25th Infantry, Mack was responsible for securing his unit's rear as they advanced. He manned the "big 50." Observing the unit's progress through binoculars, he realized they had walked into a trap and advised his commanding officer. The unit retreated but 14 men were unaccounted for. He and a lieutenant went out to find them and located several wounded men.

Mack put one man on his shoulder and was returning to their position when he was struck by artillery fire. He was airlifted to Tokyo and, from there, to Hawaii to recuperate. His valor cost him a kidney. He was unaware of the seriousness of his injury until he was reprimanded by the medical staff for continually trying to sit up while on the runway.

He served 3 tours of duty in Korea and 2 in Vietnam, as well as sites in the U.S. and overseas. Mack was in Vietnam before it became a household word--serving his first tour there in 1960. He retired in 1971.

Arthur White
Uncle Arthur, the baby boy of the family, joined the Army shortly after Uncle Mack did, in 1950, but did not make it a career.I don't remember his having been stationed overseas but perhaps my cousin, Roxie, will tell me what she knows.

Cousin Harold is buried at Quantico. Like his sister, Sistee, and brother, Billy,  Harold, aka "Bubba,"  was many years older than I, so I don't know his service. But it was surely a disappointment to hear taps played from the boom box at his internment.
Ed White

Many in the family have also served--Uncle Ed and his son, Junior;
as well as Uncle's Fred and Abel; cousins Louis and Tommy, among others, and have my gratitude.

And my gratitude extends to those men and women who play "Taps" for the families of those who served their country.

Be safe. Be Blessed.

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