A Memorial Service Yet To Be Held

Cloy.jpg  Veteran Cloy Richards

A memorial service yet to be held

By Cloy Richards

     I received two phone calls today.  The calls had very similar messages in wording, yet totally different meanings to me.  The first was from a fellow veteran and activist, asking that I “try to have a peaceful Memorial Day”.  The second was from my brother, wishing me “a happy Memorial Day”.  If you’ve read my poem “Survivor’s Guilt” you already know that I find nothing “happy” about Memorial Day.  I type this letter in the hope that I may find some kind of peace today. 

Memorial:  something designed to preserve the memory of a person, event, etc. as a monument or a holiday.

     It’s becoming all too apparent to me that every year, on this day, memories overtake everything.  Once again, I find my mind flooding with memories and my finger itching to pull the trigger and splatter those memories across the ceiling.  It would seem logical to assume that if memories are merely electronic imprints made on grey matter in my skull that 12 gauge triple aut buckshot is the best way to remove memories.  Maybe that’s just jarhead logic.  Before that day comes I want to share some memories with whomever wishes to read about them. 

     Most of all, I remember the pain.  The pain of back-to-back deployments; The pain of false pride; The pain of a military family’s last dinner together before the Marine heads to the armory to check out his rifle and wait for a white bus;  The pain of “let’s drink until we forget what happened”. 

     The pain of packing up a fellow Marine’s combat gear and personal belongings to send back to the states because he didn’t have any legs, arms, chest or back to carry it back with him. It’s a double edged sword, but lucky for him, he didn’t have a head to carry back any memories with either.  Even more pain when I couldn’t stick a letter in with his stuff to tell his parents that their son had died for a good cause.

     I remember the Marines.  Not a single one of them needed a campaign medal or a combat action ribbon to wear on their uniform to prove that they had seen what they had seen and endured what they had endured.  Most of them wore it on their faces.  All wore it on their hearts.  When looking back I remember everyone understanding everyone else’s pain, because everyone felt it to the same degree, just at different times.  We held each other up and helped each other through, and I’ll always have that memory.

     I remember July 15, 2005 with Camp Pendleton in my rear-view, and I was scared.  I was scared because I had always thought that when I left, I’d be leaving my memories behind, but they were in the backseat when I left, following me everywhere, no matter how far I run.  I guess the memory of a young Iraqi girl losing her face and arm because of American ordnance is a memory with some strong legs on it.  I don’t even run from them anymore, I’ll just end up dying tired. 

    I remember dying.  I see it happen over and over again in my head.  It’s happened so many times, I can’t stop thinking about it.  Like when I killed a man for the first time, and the second time and the 50th time.  Like when I didn’t have the balls to speak how I truly felt and declare ” I refuse to take part in this depraved lunacy”. I’ve died so many times, I’ve forgotten how to live.

    So, today is a day for memories, specifically the memory of all those who have made a sacrifice for this country.  Today I will honor and remember my morality and my dignity, along with all the heroes who have fallen.  May they rest in peace.

I wish for all my brothers and sisters who have ever worn the uniform, that they may find peace this Memorial Day, and that everyone keeps their memories close to their heart.

God bless,



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