With that in mind, I’m taking a break from writing about animals and legal issues to share some of my favorite photographs from the last two Memorial Day parades I attended as a resident of Warrenton, Virginia.
I hope you enjoy these images and that, as we all return to work after the long holiday weekend, they serve as an ongoing reminder of what is truly important…
Happy Memorial Day, everyone. I hope you are enjoying the last day of your three-day weekend. I hope you’ve had fun celebrating the unofficial start of summer, and I hope you celebrated it responsibly. But most importantly I hope you’ve stopped to reflect upon the true meaning and significance of Memorial Day.
Today is not about blockbuster sales, blockbuster movies or backyard barbecues. It is a time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in armed conflicts around the world. It is a time to reflect on their patriotism, sense of duty and courage. It is also a time to remember the families that had to go on after suffering the unspeakable loss of their loved ones.
Remembering America’s Fallen War Dogs
But there is another group we seldom hear about that should not be forgotten. These are the American military animals — mostly (but not all) dogs — that were also killed in action.
In an effort to learn more about the unsung heroes of the U.S.A.’s armed forces, I came across several websites, including eagleid.com. This page pays tribute to “The War Dogs of the United States Military.” Its contents brought me to tears.
Apparently there was a time, not too long ago, when the American military regarded its dogs the much in the same way it viewed tanks, planes, submarines, guns and bombs. These dogs — living creatures — were “relegated to the status of military equipment instead of personnel.” Among other things, this once meant that the dogs that survived the horrors of war were simply discarded (left behind or put to sleep) once they served their “purpose.” It also meant that the geniuses in charge of the U.S. armed forces historically refused to recognize the part that the dogs killed in action and those that survived played in this country’s military campaigns. According to the author of the article on the Tribute to War Dogs of the United States Military page, the rationale for this was that honoring canine warriors would be “demeaning to servicemen.”
Luckily the public and the “servicemen” themselves roundly castigated the idea. And as so often happens when the establishment is called out in the court of public opinion, significant changes ensued. Most importantly, military dogs are no longer put down or abandoned once their tour(s) of duty end. From what I understand, they either join their handlers once their handlers return to civilian life or are put up for adoption.
Increased media coverage in recent years has also heightened public awareness about the work that military dogs do and the bond between them and their human partners. News about the death of our war dogs is no longer ignored. Military dog handlers who receive honors for their efforts are quick to share credit with their canine partners. Internet stories about dogs grieving for their fallen handlers and troops angered by the loss of their dogs are now commonplace.
Rest In Peace, Brave Warriors
In addition to information about the history of U.S. war dogs, eagleid.com provides a list of the U.S. military dogs that have served in armed conflicts since the Civil War (including those presumed missing or left behind). There are too many to list here, so I will include those designated on the site as “killed in action.” They are:
So here’s the official disclaimer: I am not “pro gun.” I don’t even like guns…
They scare me. I’ve never even touched one (unless you count the toy cap guns and water pistols I played with when I was little). The thought of ordinary, law-abiding citizens having access to, much less toting assault rifles and similar firearms makes me sick. That they’re seemingly the weapons of choice for all manner of criminals, terrorists and other “bad guys” is an issue I will touch on later. For now all you need to know is that absolutely no one outside of the military, para-military organizations (law enforcement) and similar groups needs or should have any access to those types of weapons. Period.
Having said that, I am not a “gun grabber,” either. I fully respect and support the right to bear arms afforded to Americans under the Second Amendment. I believe that most law-abiding citizens who have guns believe and engage in responsible gun ownership. I also believe that any laws aimed at restricting access to certain types of firearms – or limiting gun ownership in general – will always backfire. Ultimately these well-intentioned but deeply misguided laws will result in more criminal activity and more violence – not less.
The simple reason for this is one that President Obama and the rest of the gun control gang fail to realize: Laws only matter to those of us who choose to follow them.
Does anyone honestly believe that criminals will be deterred by tougher gun laws? If anything, organized crime groups, gangs, terrorists and their cronies welcome them. Think about it. It’s a simple question of supply and demand. Less or stricter access to “legal” firearms will create an even more lucrative black market. Unfortunately for the general public, the rush to claim the lion’s share of the revenue generated from illegal arms sales could easily result in more competition among certain people who couldn’t care less about who gets caught in the crossfire.
If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is find a U.S. History book and turn to the section on Prohibition…
Then there’s the matter of mass shootings. In their wake, much is made about how the perpetrator obtained his or her weapon(s). While it is largely a moot point, those who call for new gun laws claim stricter rules will reduce public access to the types of weapons used in the course of these tragic events. In a perfect world, that would be true. But we all know this world is far from perfect. Does anyone honestly think that someone desperate or angry or crazy or determined enough to commit an act of terrorism or a mass shooting is all that concerned about the law? If someone is truly hell-bent on committing such a heinous act, he or she will use any means necessary to do so.
So President Obama can weep and stomp his feet, gnash his teeth and threaten to take executive action on the issue as much as he would like, while the rest of the gun control gang sings his praises.