Remembering the fallen: For some people memorial day is every day

The following was originally published Memorial Day Weekend, 2014.

Five years ago Greg Saroyan wrote just an amazing article in USA Today. The title is stunning in its simplicity. He called it “For some people memorial day is every day.” Let me, if you will, read just a portion of that article. And then tell you about two friends who lost their lives in Iraq.

He writes,

For grieving families the gathering place is section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery which has become a memorial to the sacrifices in Iraq and Afghanistan. More  than 400 US troops killed in those countries are buried in section in 60, several hundred yards from Pres. John F. Kennedy’s grave.

…  from a distance section 60 resembles much of Arlington cemetery where 300,000 are interred beneath but a closer look reveals greater splashes of color were families keep replenishing graveside flower  arrangements

Mementoes, many from children or former comrades, are tucked next to headstones: construction-paper memorial cards in a child’s scrawl, medals and military insignia, teddy bears and stuffed Easter bunnies.

There is also a constant outpouring of grief, from those who shed quiet tears to the inconsolable. A father lies prostrate on his son’s grave; a mother sits in a thunderous downpour seemingly unaware her lawn chair is sinking into the softening earth.

“When you’re there, I feel like I’m totally focused on my own grief. And then each of the moms, they would just come up and kind of touch you on the shoulder. You turn around and they look into your eyes and tell you they’re sorry,” says Regina “Gina” Barnhurst.

One Christmas Eve, Leesa Philippon was among the first to pierce that veil of sorrow and gently pull Barnhurst into the club of grieving families.

“Gina was kneeling at her son’s site writing and had lit candles,” Philippon recalls. “I jumped out of the car, and I walked close to her, called her name and then immediately hugged her and introduced myself. She was so alone and in deep pain.”

 

I knew Leesa’s son, a Marine who is interned in Arlington. His name is Lcpl. Lawrence Philippon. A graduate of Conard High School, Larry chose the US Marines over college. His parents tell me 9-11 affected him greatly. For him it became a mission, even before he enlisted.

Larry was already an honored member of the United States Marines, a member of the color guard at Ronald Reagan’s funeral. Larry did not have to go to Iraq but like so many others he badgered the Marines until they let him go. Lisa Philippon remembers the day he left for Iraq. She said she did a flashback to the day she waved goodbye to him as he left for his first day in kindergarten.. Lisa  and Ray were never to see their son again, killed in action while hunting AQ house to house in Iraq. Today he is buried in Arlington Cemetery. Today I mourn the death of a great American hero Lance Cpl. Lawrence Philippon.

360 miles north of Larry’s resting place is the grave site  of another great American hero, Sgt. Felix Delgreco Junior. Felix grew up in Simsbury, played Little League (I know because I coached his team), went on to excel in high school and could probably have gone to any college he wanted. In Simsbury he was known as a brainiac. But, he too felt a calling that grew every day in his heart. Rejected by the Army for being, well a little too heavy, Felix trained night and day to get in shape so that the Army could never say no. When the Army finally accepted him, little did they know they were taking on a man would become one of their greatest soldiers.

He served with distinction in Bosnia and like Larry he too did not have to go to Iraq. But he volunteered and here’s why. In a letter he wrote just before his death to his parents, he told them he wasn’t sure if there were weapons of mass destruction … and didn’t care. What did matter were the children of Iraq. What mattered to him was that they would have the same opportunity he had to grow up free, to excel, to become whatever they wanted. This is what drove Sgt. del Greco.

Felix lost his life in Iraq when his convoy was ambushed and he took upon himself to grab the gun in the Humvee turret to protect his brothers. He died a hero.

This is the way America has been since its founding. Both my Dad, a Lieutenant on the USS Missouri BB63 (shown here as a newly minted Ensign), and and my step Dad, a lieutenant and Marine pilot, served together at Okinawa. Both survived, but their service left an indelible mark on their hearts. When my father passed, he asked before his death that his headstone simply read Lt AP Vicevich USN (active duty from 1942-1946, although he remained in the USNR for sometime after that).It is more than a calling … it is part of who you are.

I could quote George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Gen. Eisenhower, or my dad’s favorite, Gen. Douglas MacArthur. All good and necessary. But for me all you need to know is that since 1776 each service member felt that same calling in their heart. To defend and protect the Republic. To make us safe and in the process preserve for future generations the freedom the justice that is the American way.

May God rest their souls. May we never forget.

 

EP. 74 – Special Memorial Day Weekend podcast

Featuring best selling author Ronald Winter and gold star mom Leesa Philippon.

Remembering all the fallen. Remembering the passing of two of my friends in Iraq, Felix DelGreco and Lawrence Philippon.

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EP. 73 – Blue states use federal money to keep taxes low

Keith Pfaneuf from ctmirror.org joins us to talk about states scrambling for more revenue … but tax increases loom, even though they are not calling them tax increases.

Meanwhile federal money keeps blue states like Connecticut flush with cash.

Podcast

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EP. 72 – Texas, the Supreme Court and UFOs

Jazz Shaw from Hot Air on the new UFO video.

Plus, Texas Republican strategist Stephanie Conway joins us to discuss Texas turning blue. Former Assistant US Attorney Barbara Vicevich joins us to discuss SCOTUS taking up abortion.

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EP. 71 – HR1 and an Arizona audit update

An examination of HR1 and the Arizona presidential vote audit with conservative commentator Tom Vicevich and your phone calls.

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EP. 70 – Vaccinate or loose your rights

The message is clear. Get vaccinated and do your “patriotic” duty. You have no choice. Plus, a California professor says police are not heroes.

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EP. 69 – Arizona ballot audit & COVID relief bill

There’s a ballot audit of the 2020 election underway in Arizona. It seems at first glance an exercise in futility – and it may be – but the left is desperately trying to stop it. So if it’s just nuts why is the left so freaked out? Listen snd you’ll get it.

Here’s what the press has reported.

Want to watch the recount live? Go here

And John Hayward from Breitbart discusses Biden’s $2 trillion dollar COVID relief bill making America government-dependent.

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EP. 68 – Packing the court and the Chauvin trial

Former Federal Prosecutor Barbara Vicevich and conservative columnist Don Pesci join Jim and Jane to discuss packing the Supreme Court and the Chauvin trial.

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EP. 67 – Hayward on Georgia election laws

John Hayward from Breitbart News talks about the Democrat narrative likening Georgia election law to the “Jim Crow” era.

Connecticut TEA Party founder Bob McGufee talks about his new book, The Seventh Crisis. Plus the media’s completely false narrative and outright lie concerning Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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He Is Risen! Alleluia.

“By dying you destroyed our death … by rising you restored our life.”

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:5-6)

Be glad. He is risen. Happy Easter To All.