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This Memorial Day all of us should be encouraged to remember and appreciate the people who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. Though I never saw action, I am both proud and privileged to have served in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Memorial Day is both a solemn occasion, often involving visits to cemeteries to remember and honor loved ones, and a holiday just celebrated with gatherings of family and friends. However, it is with the utmost respect that I recall a humorous military incident a former colleague related to me concerning what happened to a recruit in his Marine Corps outfit during basic training.

The gunny sergeant had instructed the trainees that if someone wanted to speak to him, he was to pound heavily on his door. One night, a young Marine had a problem, so he knocked on the aforementioned door. From inside the room a booming voice yelled, “I can’t hear you!” So, the soldier knocked a second time. “I can’t hear you!” the voice again bellowed. Once more the knock, but now it had turned to a pounding with a clenched fist, waking everyone in the barracks. “I can’t hear you!” came the unvaried reply.

Next the trooper beat on the door with both fists and even kicked it with his boots. “I still can’t hear you!” was the infuriating response from inside. The frustrated trainee evidently had endured all he could stand and in desperation blurted out, “How do you know I’m out here then?”

With that, there was an audible rush toward the door from inside the room. It opened with a loud thud as the angry military instructor forcibly grabbed the private and pulled him into the room. There was a great deal of shouting by the sergeant for several minutes as he reminded the young rookie who was in charge.

On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

Let us never say, “I can’t hear you!” as we recall those honored dead who gave their lives in sacrifice for our freedom.

Vince LaBarbera
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Vince LaBarbera

Vince is a Fort Wayne native. He earned a master of science degree in journalism and advertising from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. LaBarbera is retired but continues to enjoy freelance writing and serving the Radio Reading Service of the Allen County Public Library. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer