Porter Lee's Memorial Day

Memorial Day deserves better.

Since 1971, Memorial Day has been set as the last Monday in May. For 103 years before 1971, Memorial Day was set as May 30th. By moving the celebrated day to the last Monday, it pretty much guaranteed a 3-day weekend.

With little encouragement, many people take off extra days, either before or after the Memorial Day weekend. Despite being in the spring, Memorial Day weekend has come to mark the "unofficial beginning of summer".

Somewhere along the way, Memorial Day lost a big chunk of its meaning.

Sadly, 2020, and now 2021, have proven to many of us that Memorial Day holds no importance to many university students, the Antifa and BLM crowds, their supporters, and others. A few days ago, when prompted by an undercover journalist, students at one university freely expressed that Memorial Day was a celebration of "American Imperialism".

Universities are filled with people who know so much, yet sadly, almost none of what they know is true.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, in response to the protests and cries of "It's my right to.(insert your favorite silliness)", universities began declaring courtyards, walls, and even tunnels, as "free expression" areas. Students could give speeches, protest, even preach, in an atmosphere reminiscent of a ancient Greek or Roman forum filled with bored students. Meanwhile, the Free Expression walls and tunnels were covered in whatever sensible or goofy messages could be painted.

To its credit, free speech flourished. Soon, even the warm air hand dryer in the mens' room bore a sign that read, "Push the button and hear the Chancellor speak".

But, as welcome as it was, that free speech came with a price. In every American war, every American "Police Action" (an obnoxiously cute name for a war), every American Operation (Operation Just Cause, Operation Restore Hope,.), Americans died.

American "soldiers", be they soldiers, Marines, Airmen, or Sailors, were placed in dangerous locations and expected to restore peace. These Americans didn't get a choice. They didn't get to spend an extra week with their families before they left. They had absolutely no say in where they were sent or the circumstances.

Sometimes, the wars were necessary to stop something horrible from reaching America. Other times, the wars were poorly thought out misadventures, with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy.

No matter where American soldiers were sent, regardless of the "righteousness" of the decision, the soldiers paid a personal price. Even if they returned home physically unharmed, they couldn't flush from their minds the things they saw and experienced which haunted them forever.

As a kid, I was particularly distressed by the manner some Americans treated returning Viet Nam vets. I idolized the grunts, the pilots, submariners; the whole lot of them were my heroes!

My childhood best friend's father was a guy from a Midwest town who was willing to live the Hippie lifestyle for a few years to win the heart of my best friend's mom. They got married, settled down, and my best friend and his siblings were born.

Unfortunately, his mom was a full-blown, Viet Nam veteran hating Hippie. She wrote nasty letters to the soldiers, wore Ho Chi Minh sandals, and even had one of those stupid, "War is harmful to children and other living things." posters on their refrigerator. She hated the soldiers. She blamed the soldiers for the war. Seven years later, she abandoned her husband and children. Clearly she was all about peace and love.

The problem for soldiers is that someone else, someone anonymous, gets to roll the dice to determine their fate. Then, even if they survive the experience, a self-righteous blithering idiot like my friend's mom will blame the soldiers.

But, if the soldiers hadn't gone, hadn't made the best of their fates, where would it all end? Would we check the news, only to learn of an invasion, or an attack on an American city? If that happens, free speech and "my right" could quickly cease to exist.

There are times when I encounter a half-wit, verbally pooping on America, that I can hold back no more. When that happens, I softly share with them the true story of Porter Lee.

Porter Lee was drafted from a small, dirt-poor, farming community in WWII. In the US Army, his unit was sent to Europe, where Porter Lee's unit was ordered to advance as fast as possible, in hope of saving people in one of the concentration camps. On a cold, wet night, as Porter Lee and his fellow soldiers were progressing through a forest, Porter Lee was shot by a German soldier using an infrared scope equipped rifle. His family was told that Porter Lee was one of the first people shot by such a weapon. That tidbit probably wouldn't have mattered much to Porter Lee, a young man who was still a teenager, as he died alone on the cold, wet, forest floor.

Porter Lee never got to enjoy life. His short life was spent in hardship, only to die for the rest of us to enjoy our lives.

I ask you to remember the Porter Lees, not only on Memorial Day, but other days as well.

Friendly Bear is a staff writer for Scragged.com  Read other Scragged.com articles by Friendly Bear or other articles on Culture.
Reader Comments

Porter Lee could've as easily been Wayne Lee Middleton, a boy from a blue collar family who grew up in an LI suburb. He was my classmate all through school, and his name is also on the Wall. My Mom had a fellow nurse, young woman in her early 20s, stationed at the same MOB in New Guinea, shot and killed on her way between the hospital and quarters she always remembered. There have been so many...

June 4, 2021 2:47 AM
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