Memorial Day weekend holds a special place in my nostalgic heart. During a time where work and family bogarted the majority of my parents precious waking hours, their annual Memorial Day Weekend-long party was time set aside for catching up with life-long friends and their families over campfires, beers, and SO much food. I look back on this time fondly, but now I realize that my Memorial Day weekend was never about memorializing anyone. In fact it wasn’t until I was much much older, that I even realized the weighty meaning behind the holiday my family enjoyed so much.
For Us To Enjoy Memorial Day Weekend, Someone Had To Sacrifice Their Life.
I don’t think my experience is unique. Listening to the conversations happening surrounding Memorial Day leading up to this three day weekend, whether it be in real life, on social media, or within an article, we’ve lost sight of the days true meaning, and we’ve shifted the focus to partying with deals, deals, deals on the side. Now, I’m not against a good time, and I’m certainly not against a good deal (obviously, working for a retail business), but partying and saving money should really be the secondary message here. We’re losing our gratitude, and taking these wonderful memories for granted. We need to remember that for us to have these amazing weekends, somebody had to sacrifice their life. A LOT of somebodies actually. So please by all means enjoy yourselves, but don’t forget to take a moment to remember all of the men and women in our armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we have that freedom.
To help us keep our perspective today, we asked the Mountain Tribe to submit names of their fallen loved ones so that we could commemorate them today. There is a special page on our website dedicated to all of them, but before you go check that out please take a moment to read more in depth about a few of these brave men and women.
Corporal Wilfred Flores Jr.
"He was 11 days short of his 21st birthday, and was stationed in Iraq with the 10th Mnt. Infantry. While on patrol his vehicle was hit by an IED killing him instantly. This happened on 31 March 2007, his birthday is 10 April 1986. He volunteered any time it was needed, to include volunteering while still home. He worked at the Lion's Club carnivals, he worked with the handicapped at a therapeutic horseback riding organization. He helped citizens to shovel snow while stationed at Ft. Drum NY. On the day he was killed he volunteered to drive due to his battle buddy being ill. He loved playing Army as a kid and played paintball. He enjoyed video games and was very computer savvy. He was a jokester and a prankster. I miss him everyday."
- Submitted by mother, Vicky Flores
Harry E. Liljeroos
"My father fought in WWII. Landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. After the army he joined the coast guard. He was a NYC Firefighter for 22 years. He passed away at age 88."
- Submitted by son, William Liljeroos
Sgt. Ward Mark Johnson, IV
"I would like to honor my nephew's best friend, Sgt. Ward Mark Johnson IV, of the United States Marine Corps who tragically passed away last year. Mark is a fallen hero who died while on a mission while serving his country. He was only 29, stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA, and died as a result of a helicopter crash in Nepal on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 while conducting a humanitarian mission for earthquake victims. He earned two degrees before graduating from Seminole State College of Florida. Mark enlisted into the Marine Corps on March 23, 2009. He served as a helicopter crew chief. He was highly decorated and was a man who was highly proud to serve his country as a UH-1Y helicopter crew chief with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Camp Pendleton.
Sgt. Johnson's deployments include 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Sahayogi Haat. His decorations include Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Air Medal with Strike/Flight Numeral 5, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with two bronze stars in lieu of third award, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Certificate of Commendation, NATO Medal and a Meritorious Mast.
Surviving are his wife, Haley Lynn Vaughters Johnson of Camp Pendleton, California; two sons, Nathan "Nate" Johnson and Noah Johnson, and his beloved dog, Max."
- Submitted by Dorothy Gage
John A. Sell
"John was born Oct. 14, 1841 in Plumcreek Twp., Armstrong County, PA. He enlisted on Aug. 1, 1861 as a Private, Union Army, Co., G, PA 63rd Infantry Regiment commanded by Col. Alex Hays. John was wounded on two separate occasions during the Civil War. On June 30, 1862, John received a gunshot wound in the abdomen by a musket ball in line of battle at the Nelson farm in Virginia. John recovered from that wound, and then rejoined his regiment, only to be wounded a second time. This occurred on June 18, 1864 during the assault on Petersburg, where John was shot in the hand. During this siege, there were 11,386 casualties. After a brief recovery, John was mustered out on Aug. 1, 1864. He returned to his farm in Armstrong County and with his wife, Lavina, raised his family of 7 children. His battle wounds caused him trouble all through his lifetime. John died on Jan. 23, 1896."
- Submitted by Kathleen Walton
Sgt. Randy Marshall
"My cousin, Sgt. Randy Marshall, was serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom with me from 2006-2007. He was on a FOB with the 82nd Airborne when a suicide bomber drove a car through the security gate and into the building he was in. That day he and 8 other Airborne members were killed. I am proud to have served with him and for the sacrifice he has made. RIP 04/23/2007"
- Submitted by cousin, Kyle Lampp
David Harold Moran
"David is my brother, he just passed away in March of this year. He is a Vietnam veteran that received many medals, including the Silver Star for his bravery. He was shot on January 1st, 1968, and lived in constant pain until he died this year. In many ways my brother never came home from Nam. He gave his all for our freedom and should never be forgotten."
- Submitted by sister, Gloria K. Smith
Howard L. Davis
"My Grandpa, Howard, was an amazing person who loved life and his family so much. He lost his battle with cancer in 1988. I was only 12 years old when he passed, and it was the worst day of my life. I was pretty much a tomboy and he was the one that taught me how to fish, ride a bike, throw a baseball. I loved helping him work on cars and really loved all the laughs we shared! He served in World War II. He didn't really like to talk about his time in the war as he liked to focus more on the happier times in his life!"
- Submitted by grandchild, Kelly Peterson
Lavern L. Thompson
"Lavern dropped into France on June 6, 1944, and joined other paratroopers to liberate St. Mere Eglis, and repel enemy forces to protect infantry landings on Omaha Beach. He fought through France until wounded and had to be sent back to the states where he spent a year in a hospital recovering. A true American Hero."
- Submitted by Tad Thompson
"My grandfather got a Purple Heart in World War II from a sniper getting his ear. He grew up on a farm in Iowa, and then moved to Southern California where he met my grandma. Pop, as my family called him, was the most wonderful grandfather and dad to my father."
- Submitted by Kelly Campbell
Ray E. Sheppard
"My kind, loving, dear Uncle was a POW of WWII, after being shot down, and forced to climb a hill, chained to his comrades with shrapnel in his knee, and the threat of Japanese bayonets at his back. The situation was that if one of them slid at all on the way up hill, they would all be shot. He took his shirt off and tied it around his injured knee to make it up that hill with his buddies he was chained to begging him with their cries, "Please don't fall, Shep! Please don't fall!". It was an extraordinary man who could endure that day to protect his comrades. He never spoke of the feat until he was retired. He applied for his disability benefits, but was turned down because he could not prove he had ever served due to a fire that claimed the records of many veterans. Near the end of his life, the leg with the Japanese shrapnel in it was amputated. My Uncle Ray never let that hell taint his beautiful heart, or his Love for others. As a disabled veteran of the Vietnam era, I want to honor my comrades who served, as they are, and shall remain an eternal part of my soul."
- Submitted by neice, Debra Kay Sheppard-Chester