For five years now, we have gone to Willamette National Cemetery on Memorial Day.
Neither my husband or I grew up doing this and to be honest with you, the first year he suggested it… I wasn’t all that willing.
But– after that first year when we found the grave sites of Medal of Honor winners and read their stories, I never want to miss the opportunity to remember.
Because it’s so easy to forget about men like–
Larry Dahl’s whose official Medal of Honor citation reads:
“Sp4c. Dahl distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as a machine gunner on a gun truck near An Khe, Binh Dinh Province. The gun truck in which Sp4c. Dahl was riding was sent with 2 other gun trucks to assist in the defense of a convoy that had been ambushed by an enemy force. The gun trucks entered the battle zone and engaged the attacking enemy troops with a heavy volume of machine gun fire, causing a large number of casualties. After a brief period of intense fighting the attack subsided. As the gun trucks were preparing to return to their normal escort duties, an enemy hand grenade was thrown into the truck in which Sp4c. Dahl was riding. Instantly realizing the great danger, Sp4c. Dahl called a warning to his companions and threw himself directly onto the grenade. Through his indomitable courage, complete disregard for his safety, and profound concern for his fellow soldiers, Sp4c. Dahl saved the lives of the other members of the truck crew while sacrificing his own. Sp4c. Dahl’s conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and intrepidity at the cost of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit and the U.S. Army.”
Or First Lieutenant Bjorklund whose official Medal of Honor citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Altavilla, Italy, September 13, 1943. When his company attacked a German position on Hill 424, the first platoon, led by 1st Lt. Bjorklund, moved forward on the right flank to the slope of the hill where it was pinned down by a heavy concentration of machinegun and rifle fire. Ordering his men to give covering fire, with only 3 hand grenades, he crept and crawled forward to a German machinegun position located on a terrace along the forward slope. Approaching within a few yards of the position, and while continuously exposed to enemy fire, he hurled 1 grenade into the nest, destroyed the gun and killed 3 Germans. Discovering a second machinegun 20 yards to the right on a higher terrace, he moved under intense enemy fire to a point within a few yards and threw a second grenade into this position, destroying it and killing 2 more Germans. The first platoon was then able to advance 150 yards further up the slope to the crest of the hill, but was again stopped by the fire from a heavy enemy mortar on the reverse slope. 1st Lt. Bjorklund located the mortar and worked his way under little cover to within 10 yards of its position and threw his third grenade, destroying the mortar, killing 2 of the Germans, and forcing the remaining 3 to flee. His actions permitted the platoon to take its objective.”
Or 1st Lt. Cornelius A. Neil Sabin–who nearly died on July 11, 1944 in Normandy, France.
He received the Purple Heart and Bronze Cross for his valor.
Sabin went on to teach at Lewis and Clark University here in Oregon for nearly 30 years. His grave is located at Section X Site 334.
Or Wayne Max Bissell who received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions during World War II.
Bissell was one of 80 men who volunteered for the Doolittle Raiders Force, knowing that his chances of survival were extremely remote. He is buried at Plot Z, O, 1194.
It’s too easy to fill the day with barbecues and friends and sleeping-in and family and…
We’re going to do all of those things too.
I want to take a minute to invite you to join us. Wherever you are.
To invite you to find a way to remember the sacrifice.
And to honor those who have given so much for–
“God, principle and love of country.”
If you’re in Oregon and would like to join us, the 2015 Memorial Day Ceremony at Willamette National Cemetery starts at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 25.
You will want to be there half an hour ahead of time and you can find a map with directions on the cemetery website.
“I don’t have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.” – President Ronald Reagan