May 26th, 2008
11:10 AM ET

Feedback from the Frontlines: "The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten"

David M. Reisner
360 Digital Producer


Happy Memorial Day.

More than 500,000 U.S. troops are currently assigned and deployed overseas this Memorial Day…

Over the weekend I reached out to a few soldiers stationed around the world asking them what it's like for troops spending Memorial Day away from home and what this national Holiday now means to them. Here is one such response:

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/24/art.cpt.paul.a..brown.jpg caption="CPT Paul A Brown HHC: This is when I flew to Camp Taji for a conference on supporting Multi-National Division-Baghdad and how the focus might change if/when the Surge Brigades begin to leave"]

CPT Paul A. Brown HHC
168th Brigade Support Battalion
(Camp Liberty, Iraq)

I am the Adjutant (Personnel Officer) for the 168th Brigade Support Battalion which has three primary missions in support of Multi-National Division-Baghdad and Multi-National Division-Central. The "Make It Happen" (our motto) battalion provides supply, maintenance and distribution support to more than 80,000 Soldiers.

I manage all personnel, financial, discipline, awards, and public affairs for over 1,000 Soldiers in the battalion..

I miss everyone immensely and I cannot wait to be home. Erin, I love you and miss you the most. Not a second goes by that I stop missing you. I love you Sweetie and will be home soon.

Q. What is lit ike for the troops spending Memorial day away from home?
A. Since being in Iraq, I don't see any difference in the days. Maybe a change in menu at the Dining Facilities, but other than that, it is just another day. Don't get me wrong, I miss my family, but you just block it out and focus on the mission. That is a way I deal with being away from my wife Erin. I look at each day as the same as the last. It is a 15 month "Groundhog Day" where the only break is 18 days of leave and an occasional change in mission, but even that becomes a routine after a while.

Q. What events/services do the military provide on Memorial Day?
A. I will be doing a "Combat Patch Ceremony" for two units that have recently deployed. This ceremony will officially mark new Soldiers as Veterans of Combat, a visual representation of what they have done and what they are doing.

Q. What do you miss about Memorial Day back home?
A. I miss my wife Erin and family. The parties and barbeques are nice, but they are nothing without the love of the thing that makes you whole. As to the beach, we have sand everywhere, so I can do without a beach for a while.

Q. What would you do on previous Memorial Day's?...
A. I used to go to local ceremonies for Veterans in my home town, barbeques, and of course parties.

Q. Most consider Memorial Day a 'day off' – how has that changed for you?
A. I do not believe most people can be blamed for viewing it as a "day off".
I believe most people were never taught the significance of what Servicemen and women have done to ensure freedom. I believe that this view of a "day off" has changed in the last seven years and will continue to change. I am always reminded of the old quote by President Coolidge "The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten".

Remembering our troops... and
how you can help...

Filed under: Memorial Day
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. helen liu

    The USA has to choose Hillary Clinton to be next president, if the county wants to out of the miserable life and stop the Iraq war, because only Hillary Clinton is able to win John McCain. I like Barack Obama very march, however American need to keep patients,

    Please do not use the famous person to push regular people!

    May 27, 2008 at 10:45 am |
  2. Jacob M

    CNN asked the question why obama did not asked the graduates to join the Military. Martin said public service cover that in general. The Truth is Obama cannot preach what he cannot practice. Martin know the truth he allways biased to obama.



    May 27, 2008 at 8:29 am |
  3. Sompone Sakdy

    Thanks to CNN for bringing up this forgotten soldiers subject and featured PFC Jason Scheuerman suicide. You helped confirm me to get rid of my doubt that my son had PTSD after come home from Iraq April,2004. He was stationed at the big Air Force Base at Balad when he came home he was not able to go back to school where he was left off before he went to war. He didn't go back to work with his small business partner. I told him to get help from Veterans Affairs he denied that he's having problem, Veterans Affairs and the army also denied that too. His immediate superior even called him all sort of names when he's bringing something up. But as a father I knew that my son is not the same enthusiastic son that I sent out to the war. After I saw your program today, it confirmed me that I am doing something right by babying my 25 years old Iraq War veteran, instead of give him a tough love that most people had suggested.

    May 27, 2008 at 3:52 am |
  4. Joseph Dowell

    I want to encourage all of our men and women who are risking their lives for our country.

    I can't pretend to know the grim realities that you face. But I do understand on some level that you are going through hell. You are not only facing the enemies of our Great Nation but also the stress of everything you have to deal with.

    I know at times the road looks very dark. But never give up hope. There are people counting on you to return home. They love you very much and hold you tight in their prayers. Their one desire is to hold you again. So should you begin to lose your way, Soldier, that alone, is worth fighting for.

    If the stress is getting to you, pursue the help you need until you find it. Do not let it take you down. Do not settle for some moron telling you to suck it up. The greatest battle we can face in life is losing hope in the midst of dire circumstance. Do not lose yourself, Soldier. Fight it. Yell at the top of your lungs until someone listens.

    We either fight this war together or we will lose it. If you know a Soldier falling down, pick him up. Don't let it get to her. You have to help each other, to fight for each other. We will not win this war alone.

    This is what we do. This is what America stands for. There is no other way. Come back to us.

    May 27, 2008 at 1:44 am |
  5. Enimero James

    Let's all just back up a minute and put some things in perspective. Throughout all my education in history, social studies, and the 1st and 2nd WW I have never seen a military conflict between two countries where war was embarked upon as the initial method of coercion. But, somehow in 2002 a president who was never legally elected sidesteps the advice of the united nations and declares war on an middle eastern king and millions of Iraqi families as that government was meeting our government's consession. This all done at a time when our nation was at its lowest point.

    Second point, our freedoms don't need protection. We have the strongest military in the world, the greatest stockpile of nuclear weapons, the most expansive nuclear programs, and countless covert agencies worldwide The term, "defending our freedom" is a contradiction in terms and a misnomer at the least. There is no cartoonish arch nemesis out there plotting to topple capitalism. People just want to live there lives in the countries they are citizens of.

    Third point, no other country outside of America cares if we are #1 in the world. There is no such thing as 1st world, 2nd world, or 3rd world. That catagorization of standards of living went out with the "cast system".

    We, as a country, need to re-examine our world view and wake up to the reality that every country has the right to have the capacity to protect itself against agressions and terminal threats. No country should consider their occupancy in their respective regions as a temperal or less permanent existance, based on our perspective.

    That being said, there is no justifiable reason for, or qualifying motive to support war against Iraq. There is NO WAR in Iraq, and no reasonable purpose for us being there. We are not even fighting an army there, only a fictional "Boogie Man" that Bush percieved in his own childish mind.

    May 26, 2008 at 11:57 pm |
  6. Annie Kate


    I hope you get back soon to Erin and your family. Thank you for your commitment to defending liberty. Your bravery and sacrifice will not be forgotten.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 26, 2008 at 8:49 pm |
  7. Michelle

    Thank you all at 360 for giving us the word straight from
    the troops on this Memorial Day.

    May 26, 2008 at 12:30 pm |
  8. Tita

    Well done CPT Brown, well done. Get back safe, and thank you for your work.
    Kindest Regards,

    May 26, 2008 at 11:17 am |