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May 26th, 2008
01:00 PM ET

Observing Memorial Day- in the middle of a Baghdad ER

Editor's Note: CNN's Jill Dougherty spoke with Major Stephen Roberts, officer at the medical unit at Camp Liberty, Iraq (near Baghdad). Jill met him while filming a story on the soldiers who shaved their heads to raise money for children with cancer back home (watch). She shares her latest conversation with Major Roberts about Memorial Day here:

Jill Dougherty
U.S. Affairs Correspondent

At 3pm, Baghad time, the doctors, nurses and medics at Camp Liberty's medical clinic near Baghdad will pause, along with their fellow soldiers and U.S. citizens around the world, for a National Moment of Remembrance. But it comes right in the middle of sick call hours. With sick and wounded soldiers waiting for help, there's not a lot of time to spend in remembrance.

So Major Steven Roberts, MD, will call the clinic to attention, say a few words about the importance of Memorial Day. His staff will observe a moment of silence in honor of their fallen comrades - and then, back to work!

In his other life back in Washington, DC, Major Roberts is Attending Physician, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, providing treatment for children with cancer. Even at their young ages, they're in the fight for their lives and, here, his patients often are too.

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Filed under: Memorial Day
May 26th, 2008
12:00 PM ET

Feedback from the Frontlines: 'When Memorial Day became significant'

1LT Keith Heidtman

1LT Keith Heidtman

1LT Rose MacHarg
566 Medical Company (AS) Executive Officer
Serving in Iraq at Camp Liberty, near Baghdad

Memorial Day was never too significant to me until my unit began its train-up to go to Iraq. Sure, I had family members who had fought in past conflicts and had taken my share of history courses in school. Even though I had completed 4 years of Army ROTC and 2 years of active duty, I never quite grasped the significance of it until the days after Memorial Day of 2007.

It was May 30 2007 and I was running weekend errands. On a whim, I stopped to get a quick haircut. As I was waiting, I happened to glance at the TV and CNN was on. I watched the featured story for a few minutes, lost interest and started to look away. All of a sudden the screen segued to faces of Soldiers with a caption of “Fallen Soldiers.”

The first face was a shock to me.

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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

Bloggers,

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:

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: 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?
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Filed under: Memorial Day
May 26th, 2008
10:36 AM ET

Tunes 4 the Troops

CNN Heroes

Bloggers, wanted to share this story with you: CNN Hero Kaylee Marie Radzyminski sends CDs and DVDs by the thousands to U.S. troops. The #1 thing troops miss is family... The #2 thing? Entertainment... Hear her thoughts on how her one-person mission has become a national effort.

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


Filed under: Memorial Day
May 26th, 2008
10:20 AM ET

So which one is Memorial Day?

Sgt. Jerome Bishop

Not long ago while I was sitting at my desk at work, a Soldier presented an interesting question, not because of what it was, but what made it interesting is why it was asked.

"So what's Memorial Day, again?" the Soldier asked.

This kind of disturbed me. As it turns out, the confusion came from the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. While both are federal holidays to remember our nation's servicemembers past and present, only one commemorates the living.

The one that doesn't is May 26, the last Monday in May. That one would be Memorial Day. I just never thought I'd have to explain that to someone.

When Memorial Day comes around, a lot of thoughts rush to mind. Memories of picnics with the family, maybe catching the Indianapolis 500 Indy car race with a cold beverage in hand or enjoying the sun at a nearby public pool that just opened for the summer – all of which are easily recognizable traits of Memorial Day. All the while, the true meaning of Memorial Day remains hidden in the back of our mind – if it's even there at all.

Read full story...

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


Filed under: Memorial Day
May 26th, 2008
09:55 AM ET

My son, our last conversation, his lasting legacy...

Marine Sgt. Jesse Strong.

Marine Sgt. Jesse Strong.

Vicki Strong
Proud Gold Star Mother of Marine Sgt. Jesse Strong, Killed in Action 1/26/05

Growing up as a young girl in a large suburban town in the 60's and 70's, I had no experience honoring Memorial Day as it should be recognized. I have no memories of being introduced to proud veterans who had served our country, and I had no knowledge of, or appreciation for, what my freedom had cost thousands of men and women throughout history.

How dramatically my life was changed when my son graduated from Marine Corps boot camp just two weeks before September 11, 2001, and I suddenly realized that our freedom is defended and protected by brave, proud, young soldiers like my Marine son. I was learning to not take for granted so many things about our lives that we as Americans don't even think about...our form of government, our freedom to worship, to shop, to be educated, to work, and live quiet peaceful lives in our own homes...

One week before the first Iraqi election in January of 2005 my son called us from Iraq to let us know that he would be busy securing the polls for their anticipated election day. It was our last conversation, as four days later headlights drove up our driveway in northern Vermont on a cold January night, and two solemn looking Marines got out and stood at our door. We knew instantly why they were there and what they had come to tell us.

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Filed under: Memorial Day
May 26th, 2008
09:50 AM ET

Thinking of Nick on Memorial Day... and every day

Nick and Tracy Miller before his deployment to Iraq

Nick and Tracy Miller before his deployment to Iraq

Tracy Miller
Towson, MD
Mother of Nicholas L. Ziolkowski

Every year at this time I run the gamut of emotions. It’s Spring, the weather holds great promise, I see lush green when I look outside..

…then I think, every year, that the leaves are never fully on the trees until Nick’s birthday, April 21.

It’s not that I need a reminder like Memorial Day or Spring, even, to think about Nick. I thought about him and his brother every day when they were growing up.

But now that Nick (Cpl. Nicholas L. Ziolkowski, USMC) is dead—KIA, Fallujah 2004—those thoughts are tinged with sadness.

I thought, like so many of my generation, that after Vietnam we could not have another such war. I blame President Bush and his cronies for Nick’s death. I am angry, and I am frustrated.

How much longer can our country withstand the abuses perpetrated upon it by our government?
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Filed under: Memorial Day
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