Armed Forces Day Tribute

May 31, 2021 Updated: May 31, 2021

The third Saturday of May is set aside to remember our military heroes. Armed Forces Day is in honor of all our men and women in the military, past, and present. I wrote the following to pay tribute to them.

From the town square in Concord, Mass., when a patriot shouted out, freedom begins here, the famous shot heard round the world that sparked the beginning of the greatest fighting machine in the world, the American soldier.

In 1812, the British came back for a second time, determined to steal away the breath of freedom from our fledgling democracy. That was not to be. At the battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md., the British launched a vicious attack, but the brave American soldiers would not let the fort be taken. They battled all day and through the night. The stars and stripes still flew at dawn’s early light. The British turned away in defeat. This heroic action of the American soldier inspired the writing of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” which on March 3, 1931, became the national anthem of the United States of America.

In 1861, again there was a call to arms for the American soldier, but this war was different, pitting American against American, brother against brother. The heart of America was bleeding. When the final gun was fired and the smoke cleared, over 500,000 American soldiers were dead; the republic survived.

In 1898, the Spanish-American war exploded in Cuba, less than 20 miles from our shores. The American soldier to the rescue again. We helped the Cubans defeat their Spanish oppressors. Less than 20 years later, the cry for help came across the ocean, a call of desperation. The Kaiser German hoards covered the free land of France like locusts. The doughboys made quick work of the Kaiser, and Johnny came marching home.

A generation later, the American GI had to pick up his gear again. This time war to be fought on two fronts. It was World War II, the war to end all wars. In Europe, the great battle of Normandy was decisive in the European theater. To the Pacific, the USS New Jersey battleship brought the Japanese to their knees. It won 11 battle stars for heroic performance, and that’s without a single casualty. Returning from victories in Europe and the Pacific brought jubilation throughout America. That celebration was short-lived.

With sword-rattling from North Korea, world peace was broken. The Americans were called to lead U.N. forces to stem the red tide of communism in 1950. A decisive battle led by the Americans was Operation Killer on Feb. 21, 1951, which pushed the red tide back to the 38th parallel, where it’s still guarded today by U.S. forces.

Before the GIs could put down their duffel bags, they were sent back to Asia, Vietnam. Fifteen years of fighting, dying, and soldiers being sent home broken in body and mind. Their homecoming wasn’t filled with flag-waving and cheers. They came home to calls of baby killer; they were spat on and cursed. These brave men and women’s hearts were broken, their spirits crushed. This was the darkest time for America and our veterans. Today, as for the past 20 years, our American military is on the firing line in the Middle East, fighting a never-ending battle for freedom.

May one day, with the help of a higher power, peace envelope the world, and our American heroes be able to lay down their objects of war.

May GOD bless you and keep you.

Walter Sosnosky