MEMORIAL DAY 1997
VFW Hinsdale Post 4946
At Clarendon Hills Cemetery
In this age of LITE beer and LITE ice cream,
some may prefer their Wartime Anecdotes to be light-hearted as well.
But this is Memorial Day, and I prefer to
Spend this moment remembering those not with us, whom we honor here on
This great American Holy Day.
I remember them. All of them.
As they took off on ships at sea,
In squadrons in the air
And on the ground – in squads, platoons, companies, battalions and regiments….
I remember All of them.
And each one of them,
I remember as well.
Young Lou Stein of Pittsburgh,
Lead Scout, right flank at Point,
he was the first * to go forward into eternity….
Cut down by bursts of fire from that Nazi tank hidden in the woods
Just below the ridge over Medelsheim.
(*Battle of Medelsheim – 16 December 1944)
And I remember Bob Bell of Des Moines, Jack Buzille of Masillon,
and Howard Diekman of Minneapolis,**
Out there in the frigid darkness on Night Patrol one moment…
Then blown into blackness across the white snows before St. Hubert the next.
(**Night Patrol to St. Hubert – 7 January 1945)
Buzille was the soulful comic and budding cartoonist in our outfit.
And Sergeant Bell, he had two small kids back in Iowa, another on the way.
Just a few weeks earlier he had written his young wife during a day of rare
respite from the blood and gore and mud and snows of reality-
He told her Only of the Comforts that he and his buddies enjoyed, on this,
His last Christmas Eve….
“…For we were all together there like the Holy Family,” he wrote, “and best
of all we had the warm soft hay and dry bedding straw, far from foxholes,
and in a Big Old Barn, its roof still intact.”
So spoke he in these, his last words to his beautiful expectant wife back home.
And I remember William Kromer* of Vermont and Howard Wall** of Troy, New York.
Commanders who could have been more safely in the rear, but chose instead to be
Up Front near the Point, to Lead and inspire the rest of us….
Up Front where snipers and shells soon made orphans of their babies back home.
(* The Ardennes: Moircy – 30 December 1944)
(** The Rhineland: Neuendorf – 9 February 1945)
And so many, many others-I remember each of them.
Finally there was the bravest and truest American in every sense, once Lead
Scout, now Sergeant Cornelius Hardman, a Cherokee from Tulsa.*
I can see him even now laid-low by concussion from tree bursts overhead,
as we attacked that last Pillbox on the Siegfried Line.
(*The Siegfried Line: Between Prum & Kobscheid – 7 February 1945)
And even as I tended his first wounds, another round came in, and left him
With his helmet split wide open and his head all bloodied
Out there in the frigid forests of the Eifel Mountains, far from Oklahoma.
“MEDIC ! MEDIC ! ”
From out of thin air came our Medics, who dragged him out and strapped him to a
Litter across the hood of a Jeep, his red face open to the sky above.
We raced away to the Field Hospital, big as a circus tent, out near the edge of battle.
He survived the jarring from turns and bumps in the icy snow and was shipped out
From there on a proper blanketed cot, and in a heated ambulance;
and we sped on for miles into nightfall to the Hospital at Liege;
But his Braveheart, which had achieved so much, and now endured so much more,
Finally gave out. Our ever stalwart Sergeant Hardman was dead on arrival.
Now on this day, we all remember our own, each of us in his own way-these
many sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and uncles and friends.
Was it WW 2, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, or even Somalia or Bosnia…?
wherever, each of us wants to pause to recite his or her own story of how it
happened in just that way to youngsters cut down in their early 20s and 30s.
How very sad and tragic for the young to die before their elders.
And now so many years have passed us by, we lucky ones,
with brightness and blessings and cheery days galore.
Better still, even as we come here today to mourn their loss, we can also
Celebrate their lives.
For we do give thanks to each of them for their presence here with us, for their
Love, for their Service to God and Country, and for Ennobling each of us
As we gather here in this Sacred Place.
Not we, nor our children’s children shall forget them.
Nor shall we forget what they did for us.
As heirs and survivors we stand here today on Borrowed Time
Knowing once again that we must do double-duty
for what they never had a chance to do.
We do indeed stand on the Shoulders of Giants;
May their Souls Rest in Peace.
And may GOD bless America.