There are events that have occurred in our lifetimes that become engrained in our minds. We often ask ourselves, “Where were you when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon?” And over the last 21 years, I am sure many of us asked ourselves, “Where were you when the planes flew into the World Trade Center towers, and into the Pentagon, or into a Pennsylvania field?” Those of us who witnessed the planes flying into the World Trade Center on TV – that image, I will suggest, will be engrained in our memories forever.
On September 11 we saw fire fighters running into a burning building as everyone else was running out. On September 11 we saw the loyalty among fire fighters as they searched for their own within the tons of rubble. On September 11 we saw perfect strangers bond together in self-sacrifice, to deny the terrorists flying over Pennsylvania to complete their mission. On September 11 we heard men and women who knew of their imminent demise spend their final moments telling their families how much they loved them.
As General Casey said when he took the reigns as our former Chief of Staff of the Army … “We are locked in a war against a global extremist network that is fixed on defeating the United States and destroying our way of life. This foe will not go away nor will they give up easily, and the next decade will likely be one of persistent conflict. At stake are the power of our values and our civilization, exemplified by the promise of America, to confront and defeat the menace of extremist terrorists. At stake is whether the authority of those who treasure the rights of free individuals will stand firm against the ruthless and pitiless men who wantonly slay the defenseless. At stake is whether the future will be framed by the individual freedoms we hold so dear or dominated by a demented form of extremism. At stake is whether we will continue to expand freedom, opportunity, and decency for those who thirst for it, or let fall the darkness of extremism and terror.”
Lest we forget.
The coordinated terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 unfolded at nightmarish speed. At 8:46 a.m., the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Sixteen minutes later, a second jet hit the South Tower. At 9:37, an airliner hit the Pentagon. Within hours, thousands had died, including hundreds of first responders who’d rushed to the scenes to help.
But after the events quieted and the scope of the damage came into relief, it became clear that there was at least one element of the al-Qaeda terrorist plot where the damage had been mitigated—with the fatal crash of United Airlines Flight 93.
Like the three other planes hijacked on September 11, Flight 93 was overtaken by al-Qaeda operatives intent on crashing it into a center of American power—in Flight 93’s case, likely the White House or the U.S. Capitol. But instead of hitting its intended target, the United jet went down in a field in rural Pennsylvania. While all 44 people aboard the plane were killed, countless people who might have perished in Washington were spared because of a passenger revolt—a heroic struggle undertaken with whatever low-tech weapons they and the cabin crew members could muster.
Brendan Koerner, author of The Skies Belong to Us, a book about domestic airline hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s, says that in the hundreds of cases he studied for his book, he never came across anything like Flight 93’s passenger revolt.
“The attitude of passengers tended to be that airlines would give the hijackers what they wanted, and so there was relatively little threat to the passengers,” Koerner says. “There aren’t really that many instances of passengers getting involved.”
7:39–7:48 a.m.: The terrorists board, likely one man short
On the morning of September 11, four terrorists boarded United Airlines Flight 93 at Newark International Airport: Ziad Jarrah, a trained pilot; and three others, who were trained in unarmed combat and would help storm the cockpit and control the crowd. All four sat in first class.
There was one fewer hijacker on Flight 93 than the five-man crews that commandeered the other three planes, leading the 9/11 Commission Report to speculate that the United Airlines hijacking operated with an incomplete team. That commission speculated that an intended fifth hijacker—Mohammed al-Qahtani—had been refused entry to the country in early August at Orlando International by a suspicious immigration official, who thought al-Qahtani wanted to overstay his visa and live in the United States.
8:42 a.m.: The flight departs late
UA 93 left its gate at Newark International at 8:01 am, only one minute later than scheduled. But heavy traffic on the runway delayed takeoff for approximately 42 minutes.
As a result, one of the flights (Flight 11) was hijacked nearly half an hour before UA 93 had even left the runway, and both of the World Trade Center towers would be hit before the hijackers on Flight 93 had taken over their plane.
9:24 a.m.: Airline dispatcher warns United 93 about cockpit intrusion
With multiple hijackings unfolding across the country, United Airlines dispatcher Ed Ballinger sent a text message warning to pilot Jason Dahl: “Beware any cockpit intrusion—two a/c [aircraft] hit World Trade Center.”
Dahl, seemingly confused, wrote back, “Ed, confirm latest mssg plz—Jason.”
While flying 35,000 feet above eastern Ohio, United 93 suddenly lost 7,000 feet as the terrorists rushed the cockpit. In the cockpit, the captain or first officer could be heard shouting “Mayday!” and “Get out of here!” into a radio transmission.
Sometime before 9:30 a.m.: Hijackers kill a passenger in first class
Tom Burnett, a first-class passenger on the flight, called his wife from the back of the plane at 9:30 to report the hijacking. On the call, Burnett told his wife, Deena, that a passenger had been knifed in front of the other passengers. On a subsequent call a few minutes later, he told her the passenger had died.
9:32 a.m.: Hijacker Ziad Jarrah threatens the passengers via the intercom
“Ladies and Gentlemen: Here the captain, please sit down keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board. So, sit.”
9:35 a.m.: Jarrah redirects the jet’s autopilot toward Washington, D.C.
At approximately the same time, recordings from the cockpit capture the sound of a flight attendant pleading for her life, then falling silent.
9:35–9:55 a.m.: Passengers and crew call their loved ones
For approximately 20 minutes, passengers and crew relayed information about their hijacking…and received word of the grim news on the ground. Planes had, by this point, struck both of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. The passengers knew they were staring down a similar fate.
Passenger Jeremy Glick told his wife Lyz that passengers were voting on whether or not to storm the cockpit in an attempt to take back the plane.
“I have my butter knife from breakfast,” he reportedly joked.
Burnett told his wife that the passengers were going to wait until they were above a rural area before attempting their action.
Flight attendant Sandra Bradshaw boiled water, to throw on the hijackers.
Those on the flight who couldn’t get through to their loved ones left heart-wrenching voicemails instead. Flight attendant CeeCee Lyles called her husband, told him she loved him, and asked that he take care of her children.
“Are you guys ready?” one of the passengers, Todd Beamer, could be heard saying to the others while on a call with a telephone operator. “Let’s roll.”
9:57 a.m.: The passenger revolt begins.
The cockpit voice recorder captured the sound of passengers attempting to break through the door: yelling, thumping and crashing of dishes and glass. In response, Jarrah tried to cut off the oxygen and began pitching the plane left and right, to knock the passengers off balance.
9:58 a.m.: Jarrah instructed another hijacker to block the door.
9:59 a.m.: Jarrah began pitching the plane up and down, again hoping to neutralize the passenger assault.
10:00 a.m.: The hijackers discuss crashing early
Still approximately 20 minutes away from their target, the hijackers recognized that they would soon lose control of the aircraft.
“Shall we finish it off?” Jarrah asked one of the other hijackers in the cockpit.
“Not yet,” was the reply. “When they all come, we finish it off.”
In the background, a passenger screamed to another, “In the cockpit. If we don’t, we’ll die!”
10:01 a.m.: The hijackers decide to crash the plane
Jarrah again asked the other hijacker if he should crash the vehicle. This time, he was told, “Yes, put it in it, and pull it down.”
Jarrah pulled the control wheel hard to the left, causing the plane to fly upside down, and then to crash into the ground at a speed of 580 miles per hour.
It was 10:03 a.m.
Sept. 11, 2023, will mark 22 years since the terror attacks on our nation. Two planes flew into the World Trade Center towers, another into the Pentagon, and another, likely headed for the U.S. Capitol Building or the White House, crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
In the years since that dark day in America’s history, presidents have typically sought to mark the anniversary at events in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or the White House.
Well, all but one, anyway. According to a report from The Hill, Joe Biden will be in Alaska on the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks to participate in a memorial ceremony there. Adding insult to injury, Joe Biden has sent Kamala Harris and her husband to attend a commemoration ceremony in New York City.
While 9/11 was a national tragedy, the decision to be in Alaska has many baffled. Joe Biden couldn’t be further away from New York, D.C., or Virginia and still be in the United States unless he was in Hawaii. Given his recently botched response to the wildfires in the Aloha State and the sour reception he got from locals, he certainly wasn’t going to go there.
When you consider how much effort goes into choreographing every move the president makes for the purpose of public relations, Biden’s absence from any of the three traditional observation sites or even the White House strikes many as odd.
One possible explanation is that they’re giving Kamala Harris an opportunity to shine, but I’m not buying that. I’ve never believed that Biden really wanted Harris as his running mate, and there have long been reports of tension between the Biden and Harris teams. So there’s little reason to believe that she’s being primed to take his place as the de facto nominee for the Democratic Party in the event he drops out, which many people are predicting is inevitable.
My theory is that it’s related to his botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, the most consequential moment of his presidency. Afghanistan sent his approval ratings underwater, where they have stayed ever since.
Biden ignored the advice of his military advisors and lied about the situation on the ground because he wanted to have a victory photo-op for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. As a result of Biden’s hubris, 13 American service members were killed in a terrorist attack at Kabul Airport, and the Taliban quickly took over the country, erasing all the progress we and our allies made in a twenty-year war.
One thing is for sure: Biden has to make some sort of public appearance on that day, and his location on the anniversary of 9/11 is no accident. He’s definitely trying to hide.
玉音放送 “The Jewel Voice Broadcast”
At 12 Noon Japan Standard Time, 15 August 1945, NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation aired a speech Emperor Hirohito had recorded the previous day, accepting the Allies demand to surrender, or else.
And even after two “or else’s ” at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it still took the Emperor himself to make the decision and force his cabinet to accept the surrender. That’s just how much the Japanese goobermint, especially the military, didn’t want to quit, but were forced to.
The film Oppenheimer has made a lot of noise in the run-up to the anniversaries this month of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — and not just from Christopher Nolan’s bombastic soundtrack. As happens every year, these anniversaries prompt debate over the the decision to use atomic weapons, and whether they were necessary to end the war with Imperial Japan.
The film itself seems timed to influence those debates. As Axios reported over the weekend, it has at least stirred controversy in Japan, although perhaps not exactly as its producers intended:
“Oppenheimer” has generated backlash in Japan, for what critics argue is its failure to fully grapple with the destructive reality of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and its celebration of the “father of the atomic bomb.”
Why it matters: While the film does chronicle J. Robert Oppenheimer’s guilt over the deployment of the weapon he helped create, it doesn’t truly show “what happened under the mushroom cloud,” Keiko Tsuyama, a former staff writer for Kyoto News who covered the aftermath of the bombing in Nagasaki, tells Axios.
It has also been deeply uncomfortable for some Japanese people and Japanese Americans to see the development of weapons that killed upwards of 200,000 people in 1945 become part of a pop culture phenomenon.
Part of this aims at Warner’s efforts to promote the tongue-in-cheek “Barbenheimer” social-media memes, which the living survivors understandably find offensively trivializing. Some of this, however, comes from efforts in Japan and the US to strip the decision to use the bombs from the context of the war, especially in the way Imperial Japan itself conducted its genocidal campaigns and their refusal to deal with the consequences and realities of their own choices.
The film contributes to this revisionist impulse, either intentionally or accidentally. In a scene between J. Robert Oppenheimer and Harry Truman after the war, Oppenheimer laments that “I feel I have blood on my hands,” an anecdote taken directly from the biography American Prometheus on which the film is based. Truman calls Oppenheimer a “crybaby” behind his back after trying to ease his conscience by reminding Oppenheimer that the decision to use the bombs was Truman’s.
The film, clearly sympathetic to that perspective, fails to explain why Truman made that choice, other than as a decision based on choosing between dead Americans and dead Japanese. That in itself is enough of a legitimate wartime calculation, but the issue was far more complicated than that, and even more complicated than calculations about the cost of an invasion.
The Target Committee appointed by President Harry Truman to decide which Japanese cities would receive the Little Boy and Fat Man atomic bombings did not place Nagasaki among their top two choices. Instead they identified Kokura as the second target after Hiroshima. In Kokura, a city of 130,000 people on the island of Kyushu, the Japanese operated one of their biggest ordnance factories, manufacturing among other things chemical weapons. The Americans knew all this, but strangely had not targeted the city yet in their conventional bombing campaign. That was one of the reasons the Target Committee thought it would be a good option after Hiroshima.
The third choice, Nagasaki was a port city located about 100 miles from Kokura. It was larger, with an approximate population of 263,000 people, and some major military facilities, including two Mitsubishi military factories. Nagasaki also was an important port city. Like Kokura and Hiroshima, it had not suffered much thus far from American conventional bombing.
After the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, workers on Tinian island labored intensely to put the finishing touches on the Fat Man bomb and prepare it for use. This was a plutonium implosion device of far greater complexity than the Little Boy bomb used at Hiroshima, which used uranium-235 in a fairly conventional explosive mechanism. The scientists and ordnance experts at Los Alamos had agonized for years over how to use plutonium in an atomic weapon, and Fat Man was the result.
The decision to use Fat Man just days after the explosion of Little Boy at Hiroshima was based on two calculations: the always-changeable Japanese weather—the appearance of a typhoon or other major weather event could force deployment to be postponed for weeks—and the belief that two bombings following in quick succession would convince the Japanese that the Americans had plenty of atomic devices and were ready to keep using them until Japan finally surrendered. Reports of approaching bad weather convinced the Americans to drop the next bomb on August 9.
A B-29 named Bockscar took off from Tinian at 3:47 that morning. In its belly was Fat Man, and the atomic bomb was already armed. Maj. Charles W. Sweeney flew the plane, accompanied by the usual pilot, Capt. Frederick C. Bock. The Enola Gay took part in the mission, flying weather reconnaissance.
Over Kokura, clouds and smoke from nearby bombing raids obscured visibility. The Americans could see parts of the city, but they could not site directly on the city arsenal that was their target. Sweeney flew overhead until Japanese antiaircraft fire and fighters made things “a little hairy,” and it was obvious that sighting would be impossible. He then headed for his secondary target: Nagasaki. In Kokura, meanwhile, civilians who had taken shelter after the air raid signal heard the all-clear, emerged, and breathed sighs of relief. None of them knew then, of course, how close they had come to dying.
Clouds also obscured visibility over Nagasaki, and Maj. Sweeney, running out of fuel, prepared to turn back toward Okinawa. At the last second a hole opened in the clouds, however, and Bombardier Capt. Kermit K. Beahan announced that he could see his target. And so Fat Man began its journey, detonating over Nagasaki at 11:02 a.m. local time.
Fat Man detonated at an altitude of 1,650 feet over Nagasaki with a yield of 21 kilotons, about 40 percent more powerful than Little Boy had been. It did so almost directly above the Mitsubishi factories that were the city’s primary targets, rather than over the residential and business districts further south. Tens of thousands of civilians, especially children, had already been evacuated from the city. The series of hills bracing Nagasaki also somewhat confined the initial blast and restricted the damage.
Still, the impact was devastating, particularly because people had heard the all-clear after an earlier aircraft raid warning, and had left their shelters. Everything within a mile of ground zero was annihilated. Fourteen thousand homes burst into flames. People close to the blast were vaporized; those unlucky enough to be just outside that radius received horrific burns and, there and further out, radiation poisoning that would eventually kill them. Although estimates vary, perhaps 40,000 people were killed by the initial detonation. By the beginning of 1946, 30,000 more people were dead. And within the next five years, well over 100,000 deaths were directly attributable to the bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.
A few seconds after the detonation of ‘Little Boy‘ over Hiroshima.
Combat Strike Operations Order 35
509th Composite Group U.S. Army Air Force
Taking off from Tinian island at approximately 2:45 a.m. with Colonel Paul Tibbets as command pilot of the ‘Enola Gay‘, the B-29 ascended to operational altitude as it flew to Iwo Jima island to rendezvous just before 6:00 a.m. with the accompanying observation and photography aircraft
At 08:09, Colonel Tibbets started his bomb run over Hiroshima and handed control over to his bombardier, Major Thomas Ferebee.
The release at 08:15 went as planned, and the gun type atomic bomb containing about 141 pounds of uranium-235 took 44.4 seconds to fall from the aircraft flying at about 31,000 feet to a detonation height of about 1,900 feet above the city.
Due to a crosswind, the bomb missed the aiming point, the Aioi Bridge, by approximately 800 feet and detonated directly over Shima Surgical Clinic with the force equivalent to 16 kilotons of TNT.
The radius of total destruction was about 1 mile, with resulting fires across 4.4 square miles.
Around 70,000 to 80,000 people, including 12 U.S. prisoners of war, were killed and another 70,000 injured.
The Korean War Armistice agreement was signed July 27, 1953 — 70 years ago this month. It’s a very iffy anniversary, for the Korean War remains unfinished business.
Internet factoids claim the armistice concluded the war with “a complete cessation of hostilities.” Dub those factoids “faketoids” — disinformation posing as historical fact. First point: an armistice is not a peace treaty. Second point: along the Korean peninsula’s Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the fighting has never stopped.
Examples abound. The DMZ Conflict is a collective name for skirmishes, raids and assassination attempts that occurred from October 1966 to October 1969. The fighting cost South Korea 299 dead and 550 wounded. Forty-three Americans were killed and 111 wounded.
The fighting included the January 1968 Blue House Raid. Thirty-one North Korean commandos infiltrated South Korea to assassinate South Korea’s president. They attacked the president’s residence (the Blue House) but failed to kill the president. Ultimately South Korea suffered 26 killed and 66 wounded; 29 communist commandos were slain, one captured. Call it “gray zone war” and you nail it.
At this immediate moment we see a kinda-sorta conflict lapse, except for nuclear warfare threats and missile launches.
This July 12 North Korea test fired an intercontinental ballistic that traveled some 650 miles and splashed into the Sea of Japan. The missile’s loft trajectory and flight time indicates it can hit Guam and Hawaii — a nuclear Pearl Harbor. Seattle, San Francisco and Phoenix, stay tuned.
The Biden administration’s Afghanistan skedaddle debacle has ongoing security consequences. The Taliban, however, hasn’t tested ballistic missiles and acquired nukes.
Was North Korea’s test a bluff? The Wall Street Journal quoted Sung-Yoon Lee (Korea expert at Tufts University) as saying “North Korea excels in pretextual provocations… resorting to illegal and menacing behavior while blaming the U.S. or South Korean actions or statements as the pretext for its kinetic ‘protest.'”
Lee believes North Korea “is gearing up for a major provocation.”
Which makes my third point: The Korean War isn’t over. When you hear TV talking heads call Afghanistan America’s longest war, click the remote and silence the ignorant poseurs.
On the armistice’s 70th anniversary, North Korea’s major export is the threat of war magnified by potential nuclear holocaust. It’s an international version of an alley bully’s extortion game. “Pay me off,” the punk waving the pistol says, “or I’ll burn your store.” The analogy, however, goes only so far. North Korea’s Kim waves a nuclear weapon as his miserable people suffer from endemic communist famine.
Maybe North Korea’s nuke is still a primitive fizzle nuke. But quick tech help could modernize the Kim regime’s nukes. Next door China is a possible culprit. Historical point: At its height the Korean War was a war between the U.S. and communist China.
The more likely nuke upgrade culprit– a desperate Vladimir Putin seeking political leverage. A nuke detonation in Asia might shake Ukraine.
Far-fetched? Let’s hope so. However, dictators experiencing a crisis of authority grasp at horse hairs — an indirect reference to the Sword of Damocles.
Twenty years ago, I wrote a column reflecting on the Korean War armistice’s 50th anniversary. In 1951 my father was in combat in Korea. My mother told me that year more than anything she wanted a quick end to the Korean War.”
Dad fought in the Punch Bowl, a collapsed volcano where the Chinese and American armies slugged it out in a series of bitter attrition battles. He censored his own letters. He didn’t tell Mom about the human wave assault that overran his bunker, with Chinese soldiers racing past him as he fired his pistol at fast shapes in the night.
For years, Dad’s commentary on Korea amounted to little more than “I was always too damn cold.”
Korea wasn’t the first post-World War Two “war of integration and disintegration.” That distinction arguably goes to China, where the fighting never stopped. Red China still wants to invade Taiwan.
Today your job is straightforward. First, you must load 40 to 50 pounds on your back. Then you need to climb down a net rope that is banging on the steel side of a ship and jump into a steel rectangle of a boat bobbing on the surface of the ocean below you. Others are already inside the boat shouting at you to hurry up.
Once in the boat, you stand with dozens of others as the boat is driven towards distant beaches and cliffs through a hot hailstorm of bullets and explosions. Boats moving nearby are from time to time hit with a high explosive shell and disintegrate in a red rain of bullets and body parts. Then there’s the smell of men near you fouling themselves as the fear bites into their necks and they hunch lower into the boat. That smell mingles with the smell of burnt gunpowder and seaweed.
In front of you, over the steel helmets of other men, you can see the flat surface of the bow’s landing ramp still held in place against the sea. Soon you are within range of the machineguns that line the cliffs above the beach ahead. The metallic sound of their bullets clangs and whines off the front of the ramp.
Then the coxswain shouts and the klaxon sounds. You feel the keel of the LVCP grind against the rocks and sand of Normandy as the large shells from the boats in the armada behind you whuffle and moan overhead. Then the explosions all around and above you increase in intensity and the bullets from the machineguns in the cliffs ahead and above rattle and hum along the steel plates of the boat and the men crouch lower. Then somehow you all strain forward as, at last, the ramp drops down and you see the beach. The men surge forward and you step with them. Then you are out in the chill waters of the channel wading in towards sand already doused with death, past bodies bobbing in the surf staining the waters crimson.
You are finally on the beach. It’s worse on the beach.
The bullets keep probing along the sand, digging holes, looking for your body, finding others that drop down like sacks of meat with their lines cut. You run forward because there’s nothing but ocean at your back and more men dying and… somehow… you reach a small sliver of shelter at the base of the cliffs. There are others there, confused and cowering and not at all ready to go back out into the storm of steel that keeps pouring down. And then someone, somewhere nearby, tells you all to press forward, to go on, to somehow get off that beach and onto the high ground behind it, and because you don’t know what else to do, you rise up and you move forward, beginning, one foot after another, to take back the continent of Europe.
If you are lucky, very lucky, on that day and the days after, you will walk all the way to Germany and the war will be over and you will go home to a town somewhere on the great land sea of the Midwest and you won’t talk much about this day or any that came after it, ever.
They’ll ask you, throughout long decades after, “What did you do in the war?” You’ll think of this day and you’ll never think of a good answer. That’s because you know just how lucky you were.
If you were not lucky on that day you lie under a white cross on a large well kept lawn not far from the beach you landed on.
Somewhere above you, among the living, weak princes and fat bureaucrats and rank traitors mumble platitudes and empty praises about actions they never knew and men they cannot hope to emulate.
You hear their prattle, dim and far away outside the brass doors that seal the caverns of your long sleep. You want them to go, to leave you and your brothers in arms to your brown study of eternity.
“Fifty years? Seventy-five? A century? Seems long to the living but it’s only an inch of time. Leave us and go back to your petty lives. We march on and you, you weaklings primping and parading above us, will never know how we died or how we lived.
“If we hear you at all now, your mewling only makes us ask among ourselves, ‘Died for what?’
“Princes and bureaucrats, parasites and traitors, be silent. Be gone. We are now and forever one with the sea and the sky and the wind. We marched through the steel rain. We march on.”
6 June 1944, United Kingdom
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces:
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory.
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
SAVANNAH, Ga. — Soldiers of the 9th Infantry Regiment made a desperate retreat as North Korean troops closed in around them. A wounded, 18-year-old Army Pfc. Luther Herschel Story feared his injuries would slow down his company, so he stayed behind to cover their withdrawal.
Story’s actions in the Korean War on Sept. 1, 1950, would ensure he was remembered. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, which is now displayed alongside his portrait at the National Infantry Museum, an hour’s drive from his hometown of Americus, Georgia.
But Story was never seen alive again, and his resting place long remained a mystery.
“In my family, we always believed that he would never be found,” said Judy Wade, Story’s niece and closest surviving relative.
A Memorial Day burial with military honors was scheduled Monday at the Andersonville National Cemetery. A police escort with flashing lights escorted Story’s casket through the streets of nearby Americus on Wednesday after it arrived in Georgia.
“I don’t have to worry about him anymore,” said Wade, who was born four years after her uncle went missing overseas. “I’m just glad he’s home.”
Jimmy Carter, 98, has been under hospice care at his home in Plains since February. Jill Stuckey, superintendent of the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park, said she shared the news about Story with Carter as soon as she heard it.
“Oh, there was a big smile on his face,” Stuckey said. “He was very excited to know that a hero was coming home.”
Story grew up about 150 miles (241 kilometers) south of Atlanta in Sumter County, where his father was a sharecropper. As a young boy, Story, who had a keen sense of humor and liked baseball, joined his parents and older siblings in the fields to help harvest cotton. The work was hard, and it didn’t pay much.
Story left school during his sophomore year. In the summer of 1950 he deployed with Company A of the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment to Korea around the time the war began.
On Sept. 1, 1950, near the village of Agok on the Naktong River, Story’s unit came under attack by three divisions of North Korean troops that moved to surround the Americans and cut off their escape.
“Realizing that his wounds would hamper his comrades, he refused to retire to the next position but remained to cover the company’s withdrawal,” Story’s award citation said. “When last seen he was firing every weapon available and fighting off another hostile assault.”
Story was presumed dead. He would have been 18 years old, according to the birth certificate Wade obtained.
In 1951, his father received Story’s Medal of Honor at a Pentagon ceremony. Story was also posthumously promoted to corporal.
About a month after Story went missing in Korea, the U.S. military recovered a body in the area where he was last seen fighting. The unidentified remains were buried with other unknown service members at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.
According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, more than 7,500 Americans who served in the Korean War remain missing or their remains have not been identified. That’s roughly 20% of the nearly 37,000 U.S. service members who died in the war.
It is okay to go eat a hot dog this week. And there is no issue with zooming around on the lake or sipping cold beers on the beach this Memorial Day weekend. But these activities are not the reason for Memorial Day, and allowing this fact to be forgotten is something patriotic Americans have been fearful of for some time.
Our ability to relax and enjoy the extra time off is directly thanks to the men and women of the armed forces, who, throughout our nation’s history, have fought and died to protect the freedoms we are afforded here in the United States. Their sacrifice paid our leisure, and being unwilling to acknowledge that has long been considered an unforgivable act…especially in politics.
May 29 is Memorial Day, formerly called Decoration Day. Remember what it’s all about. Memorial Day is a holiday that means so much more than hot dogs, parades, and the start of the summer. Not that those things are bad, but it isn’t Memorial Day unless we remember what the day is really about—honoring the people who laid down their lives to save our families and to protect the land of the free.
A Memorial Day Prayer
Lord who grants salvation to kings and dominion to rulers, Whose kingdom is a kingdom spanning all eternities; Who places a road in the sea and a path in the mighty waters – may you bless the President, the Vice President, and all the constituted officers of the government of this land. May they execute their responsibilities with intelligence, honor, and compassion. And may these United States continue to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
May He bless the members of our armed forces, who protect them from harm on the land, air, and sea. May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters and their families from every trouble, distress, plague, and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.
May the God of overflowing compassion, who lives in the highest and all worlds, give eternal rest to those who are now under his Holy sheltering spiritual wings, making them rise ever more purely through the light of your brilliance, and may he bless their souls forever and may he comfort the bereaved. May those of us who remain free never forget their sacrifice. On Memorial Day, may we as a nation remember those who gave their lives to protect America and our freedoms, and may their memories always be a blessing. May we spend some time today remembering those who sacrificed and praying that God protects their souls and comforts their bereaved loved ones.
The Original Order Creating the Memorial Day Holiday:
The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way, arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are here to play, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers sailors and Marines, who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation’s gratitude—the soldiers and sailors widow and orphan.
It is the purpose of the Commander in Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
Less than half of Americans know the true meaning behind Memorial Day, according to a survey taken a few years ago.
The survey of 2,000 Americans revealed just 43 percent were aware it’s a holiday honoring those who died in service while in the US Armed Forces.
Twenty-eight percent mistakenly believed Memorial Day was a holiday honoring all military veterans who have served in the US Armed Forces — which is actually Veterans Day.
It was revealed to be a common mistake: A third of respondents (36 percent) admitted to being unsure of the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of University of Phoenix, the survey tested Americans on their knowledge of the holiday.
“For many Americans, Memorial Day is a much-needed day off to relax and enjoy their family. It is important to understand that it is also a solemn day of remembrance. For me, as a combat veteran and for military members and their families, this day holds great significance. Not everyone I served with was fortunate enough to return home,” said Brian Ishmael, senior director, University of Phoenix Office of Military and Veteran Affairs and former US Army sergeant.
Even though there’s some confusion about the holiday, 83 percent of Americans believe it’s important to do something to commemorate Memorial Day.