This Memorial Day, I’m remembering families of the fallen

May 29, 2022

This Memorial Day, once again we are reminded that freedom comes at a price. It’s a cost that too many people and their loved ones have experienced throughout our country’s history.

Each person who has served in our Armed Forces has made incredible sacrifices, and too many have made the ultimate sacrifice. We owe them a debt that can never be repaid.

Wars are costly and chaotic, and there are endless stories of heartbreaking sacrifice. It is so important that we remember them, so that these brave souls can live on in our nation’s history, and in our hearts.

USS Indianapolis survivor Albert Morris of Akron, Ohio walks past a monument honoring fallen shipmates following a service in Indianapolis on July 24, 2005. (AP Photo by Darron Cummings)

Reading yesterday’s paper, I was struck by one of those countless stories that we must never forget, “Documents reveal sea burials for 13 USS Indianapolis sailors.” 

According to the article,

“Two Japanese torpedoes hit the USS Indianapolis on July 30, 1945, when the heavy cruiser was on its way to the Philippines from Guam. The ship sank in just 12 to 15 minutes. The Navy estimates about 300 sailors were trapped inside and went down with the vessel. 

The remaining 800 sailors abandoned ship, but rescue vessels didn’t arrive for four days. Hundreds of sailors died in the interim from injuries, dehydration and shark attacks. Only 316 survived. It’s known as one of the biggest tragedies in U.S. naval history.”

The Navy reported the loss of the Indianapolis on the same day World War II ended, so this tragic story was eclipsed by the jubilant news of the brutal conflict’s conclusion.

Saturday’s article was triggered by the Navy’s announcement that it had changed the status of 13 sailors who were lost, from “unaccounted for” to “buried at sea.”

Rick Stone, a retired chief naval historian at the Naval History and Heritage Command, said researchers found the names of the 13 sailors in deck logs, commanders’ reports and war diaries kept by the seven ships that recovered bodies.

“Giving their loved ones and their families some kind of closure — I mean frankly and in all sincerity — it’s the greatest gift I can imagine,” said Stone.

Their families. Their loved ones. Especially their spouses, the ones who diligently hold lives together while their mates serve to protect our freedom. Hopefully their partners will return home to them, but they know there is no guarantee. Those under-appreciated pillars of their clans are especially on my mind this Memorial Day.

We honor the members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the Space Force who died in the line of duty. We also remember the National Guard members, diplomats, Intelligence Community personnel, and Peace Corps volunteers who lost their lives while representing America. We commemorate their sacrifices as well.

Tomorrow morning (Monday) at 11am, I’ve been invited to speak at the Memorial Day Observance at the American Legion San Dieguito Post 416, 210 W F St. in Encinitas. I’ll be joined by Encinitas Councilmember Tony Kranz and Colonel Marty Conrad (USMC RET). The public is welcome to attend and honor our fallen protectors.

Let’s enjoy our Memorial Day holiday while holding in our thoughts all the heroes who made it possible.

In peace,

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