Today is Memorial Day here in the States. The holiday’s roots go back over 130 years to shortly after the Civil War when the federal government set aside a day to honor the fallen from that war.
And then after World War I the significance of the day was officially expanded to honor the dead from all our nation’s wars.
This holiday is personal for me, and not only because I am a Navy veteran. It is a day for me to remember some of the incredible people who have given their lives in support of the liberty we so easily take for granted.
Today is a day to remember Sonny Bubeck who was engaged to the best friend of a girl I was dating at the time. I watched Sonny die when his F/A-18 Hornet did a lateral hard-over right off the catapult on the USS Saratoga and crashed into the Adriatic Sea. His plane was loaded with war shots because we were flying over Bosnia at the time trying to keep the various factions on the ground there from massacring each other.
Today is also a day to remember one of my flight school roommates, Rich Calderone.
Rich was a monster on the ping-pong table. He was the inventor of our constantly changing ruled â€œroom-ballâ€ where the ball could hit on any surface in the room after it hit your paddle as long as it hit once on your opponent’s side of the table. His specialties were the ceiling fan rocket shot and two-walling it off the wall behind his opponent so that it hit their side heading in the wrong direction and was impossible to play.
Rich died when his helicopter crashed one night off the USS America.
If you would, in honor of Sonny, Rich, and the thousands of others who have given their lives defending the liberty that we all enjoy today, please take a moment to watch this video clip, We Support U. And remember their sacrifice.
There is another reason why this particular holiday has special meaning to me. Because Memorial Day is a time set aside to remember the fallen, it is a day when Taps is traditionally played.
And it’s not just that the music is particularly gripping for anyone who’s been in uniform. (Here you can listen to Taps and hear for yourself.) But there is a family connection, as well.
I am actually related to General Daniel Butterfield, the one usually credited with helping create the song and bringing it popularity. My grandmother’s maiden name is Butterfield.
Last year, my cousin, Hannah Sollecito was invited to participate in the Echo Taps project. Echo Taps was done to highlight the shortage of buglers to perform Taps at military funerals. 866 musicians spaced along 41 miles of rural New York between Elmira and Bath echoed the funeral dirge for nearly three hours, one to the next along the entire distance.
As a descendent of General Butterfield, Hannah was asked to be the first to play and started the chain. Here’s the Washington Post article from last year.
Take a moment today to remember our fallen heroes.
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