Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

There's a big veteran's cemetery about an hours drive from my house. It's a pretty old one and all filled up. Most of the guys buried there didn't die in a war. There's Civil War guys that made it out here afterwards, some guys that helped whip the Filipinos, maybe some WW I guys, I'm not sure when it filled up.  I've heard most of the guys buried there died from tropical diseases. Mostly they were wasting diseases. These guys lasted long enough to get back from wherever they were to the adjoining Army hospital on the Pacific coast. It wasn't all just Malaria and Yellowjack. There was all kinds of stuff they didn't even have names for in those days, much less cures. Running sores and body rot. Ameboid and protozoan infections of the brain. Intermittent raging fevers and bloody fluxes. They came back to Sawtelle, to suffer, die and be buried, from tropical hell holes all over the Pacific rim. Sometimes they lived for months, even years, watching as others wasted and died around them, knowing there was no hope for them. Most of them still far from their friends and families.

Nobody's death, who died serving, is worth more or less than another's and those that face death with the most bravery are not always on the battlefield.

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