Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday 5-23

How will you mark Memorial Day?

Will you be one of the millions who try to cram as much outdoor fun into a three day weekend? Fishing, golfing, camping, hiking and biking with the kids and the grandparents and maybe even the in-laws? Or will you be among the dwindling minority that take time on Monday to think about the soldiers who have given their lives to give us the freedom to do almost whatever we want on the holiday?

Fewer communities hold Memorial Day parades every year. Probably because it gets harder to find people willing to give up time to plan, stage and clean up after the event. Attendance at Memorial Day events at local cemetaries is dwindling as well. The sacrifice for freedom direcly touches fewer families nowadays. In my family for example, just one great-uncle--Aloyous Roskom--was killed in action. He died fighting in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium as part of the Battle of the Bulge on January 4th of 1945. I hate to admit that my family hasn't marked that sacrifice ever. In fact, I had to Google him just to find out the date and place of his death. I'm not even sure where "Loy" is buried.

So this Memorial Day, why not ask the older generation if anyone in your family died for his or her country. Take a minute to get off the highway home from the cottage and make a short stop at that person's final resting place. If that's not possible, just pause from the fun for few minutes to consider all of the benefits provided by those who aren't around to enjoy them themselves. To help you, all of the stations in the Cumulus group here in Oshkosh will air "Taps" at 3:00 Monday afternoon. Why not tune in and give silent thanks to the people who gave you more than just a three day weekend.


  1. Thank you for your comments, Jonathan. My father did not die on the battlefields of Korea but he surely came very close many times.

    As a 21-year-old staff sergeant with the 9th Infantry Regiment, he was among the first rushed to Korea in July 1950 to bolster the Pusan Perimeter, when our forces were very nearly pushed into the sea and obliterated.

    I cannot imagine what it would be like to be a kid from a small town in Iowa, thrown into a foreign land where everyone is trying to kill you. I read a history of the Battle of Naktong Bulge once. The hair on my neck stood up when I read that Dad's company (E) took so many casualties in that fight that all their officers had to be replaced five times in the course of the engagement, and that non-coms had to lead most platoons for lack of lieutenants. I cannot imagine what a living hell that was.

    Dad fought all the way north after the Pusan Breakout, almost to the Yalu, was there when the Chinese army entered the war and overran his division at Kunu-ri (google that if you want to read a horror story). Seperated from his unit in the chaos, he spent over a week fighting with the Turkish brigade before he was able to rejoin his own unit. He always said he hoped we never got into a war with the Turks because those guys knew how to fight.

    He saw a lot of friends die horribly and he killed people. He once broke down when he told of a friend killed in action during a retreat, whose body he could not retrieve. He felt bad that he did not receive a decent burial.

    Somehow he lived through it all and came home to marry and live a mundane small-town life, good to his wife and his three kids.

    I do not pretend to undertand geopolitics, world history, etc. I do not know if his presence, if our presence, in Korea in 1950-53 made the world one wit better or worse. I only know that he was a simple honest man who was asked by his country to go and do a dirty job, and he did it, and did it well, unflinchingly. I am very proud of him for that, and for all the millions of similar men and women doing the same for us today around the globe. Thank you.

  2. My grandfather, Marcus Roskom, (who also served during WWII) is Aloyous Roskom's brother. I could even give you photographs of Aloyous' gravesite in Belgium. My uncle, Al, is named after Aloyous.

    feel free to contact me if you'd like more info. :)