Duty — odious duty

Big Red Car here.  Been raining cats and dogs here in the ATX.

The Boss was mumbling about planting some hibiscus and mandevilla vines along his big stone walls by the driveway — where your Big Red Car often bivouacs on a rainy night.  [Hey, I like the idea of sharing my bunk with some cute red flowers.  Get it, Big RED Car and big RED flowers?  Haha, Big Red Car, you crack yourself up.]

But, alas, it has been too rainy for The Boss to do any planting, so he’s been watching the NBA tournament.


[pullquote]”Do your duty in all things.  You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.”[/pullquote]

Duty is an important consideration of soldiers and the business of soldiering.  As Robert E Lee said:  “Do your duty in all things.  You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.”

One of the duties that is imposed upon young Army officers is Notification Officer.  An Army officer is sent with a Chaplain to notify a family that their son has been killed in action or has otherwise died on active duty.

It is tough duty.

Notification Officer

When you are appointed as a Notification Officer, you receive a phone call — usually at about 3:00 AM in the morning while sleeping soundly.

You put your Class A green uniform on with all your ribbons.  You pick up the Chaplain in a green Army staff car.  You drive to the home of the fallen warriors family just after dawn.

You say:

“On behalf of the President of the United States and the Secretary of State, I regret to inform you that you son has been killed in action (or other circumstances). “

You mumble a few words of condolence.  You notify the family that a Survival Assistance Officer will contact them on the following day and then you beat feet out of there.  It is a solemn and unhappy and life changing experience.

You are all of about 25 years old and you are deep into the shattering of other people’s lives.  The Boss had this duty several times when he was a young Army officer.  It is an odious and troubling duty.  Feel not for The Boss, feel for the soldier who is dead and his family.

Every politician who ever votes to go to war should have to perform this duty.  We would likely have fewer wars.

Memorial Day

This is why we observe — not celebrate, mind you, OBSERVE — Memorial Day.  To honor and recognize the last full measure of duty given by those whose lives were sacrificed so that we may live in liberty and enjoy our freedoms.

Memorial Day is the symbolic start of summer for our Nation but it is really an observance of how damn expensive it is to be a free people.  It costs lives and it is a mortgage that must be paid regularly. In blood and with lives.  Young lives mostly.

I want you to have a great family Memorial Day but, damn it, I want you to take a moment with your family to reflect in solemn silence what this day really means.  Take a second and draw your family close and observe a prayerful silence and say to them — we are free to enjoy our Memorial Day today, to eat these hot dogs, to love each other in freedom — because men died to ensure our freedoms.  Today we honor their sacrifice.

Join Lady Liberty in weeping for their sacrifice.  We owe that to them.

Memorial Day is the day to honor our Nation’s war dead — not to appreciate the service of our Veterans.  We honor them on Veteran’s Day.  Do not wish anyone a “happy” Memorial Day.  It is not a happy day.  It is a sad day in which we mourn the loss of those soldiers.

But, hey, what the Hell do I know anyway?  I’m just a Big Red Car but I’m an All American Big Red Car.  And I join you and Lady Liberty in weeping for our war dead.  Godspeed, good and faithful warriors.  Thank you for your sacrifice.  A grateful Nation mourns your loss.





  • Thanks for your service. Too many young lives lost for the cause of freedom. Irreplaceable. Thank goodness they had the courage to serve, and to give their life so I would have the opportunity I do today. Nothing we write, or say can cover the debt we owe them. It’s a debt I cannot repay-I am a free American citizen thanks to them.

    • JLM


      It is a debt which can never be fully repaid but in some small way living a life that was worthy of their sacrifice is all we can really do. To deserve their sacrifice.

      Every day.



    • Me too, being a free American citizen, thanks to their service, and sacrifice. I am so sad, that so few remember them with gratitude, nor realize what they see and must do to keep us safe. I can’t look at, or read those awful news stories (no, not news; genuine journalists and reporters have compassion, ethics), rather, pot-stirrers or those with agendas, I don’t know. Anyway, when they publish photos of servicemen and women out of context, or in context while in extremis, and then proceed to find fault, it makes me cry with frustration, hurt, anger, sorrow. Why isn’t there more compassion, gratitude, respect for our active, retired or deceased military?

      I’m biased: My father served in Korea, at Olmsted Air-Army, at Wright-Patterson AFB, then as a cardiologist for the Veteran’s Administration. The USAF helped and cared for my father at the very end, and continue to do so at Florida National Cemetery.