Here it is Memorial Day again…This is a hallowed day and we might take this time to enjoy our freedom… we might also invite our fellow Americans to ‘Honor Memorial Day.’ Let me start today’s entry with a very short film I am very fond of. Please take the time to watch this… and then move on if you will.

Reveille: Watch it full screen.

This is a day when we honor those who have served and paid the ultimate price for that service. Now, when I was of that age, I did not hear that call to service, and that’s just how it was in my story. Those who serve, (whether it be in the Armed Forces, or as a first responder, or a Doctor… or a teacher… well… this could be a long list) deserve our respect and our love. Those who have paid the ultimate price, deserve to be honored, and most importantly… remembered!

‘We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.’ (There are many sources for this quote. This one is attributed to Winston Churchill.) In any case, I sleep peacefully on most nights and would like to share some of the blessings that my family and I enjoy thanks to to these men and women.

The first camp out

The first camp out

My daughter Izze and I enjoyed our first camp out together…

By dawn's early light...

By dawn's early light...

When we woke, our world was intact and breakfast awaited us in the kitchen.

Before the David Lindley show

Before the David Lindley show

Getting ready for a show at the Fur Peace Ranch is done with the knowledge that were are going to be safe, and a wonderful evening will be had by all.

John and Vanessa introduce David

John and Vanessa introduce David

We take these moments for granted. We are safe and loved… this is not Nazi Germany, this is not Bosnia in the 90’s… this is not a lot of things. This is American where we expect one day to follow the other with a minimum of afflictions!

Jerry looks for a fuse

Jerry looks for a fuse

My friend Jerry and I decided to hit the road for a Memorial Day Run. He put on his big flags and off we went. We left Millie’s in Rutland, Ohio about noon after a delicious breakfast and pointed our bikes south down Rt. 7 towards Gallipolis. Past Gallipolis, down river till we crossed the Ohio into Huntington, West Virginia. In Huntington, we sought out Ritter Park where our old friend Butch Frazier placed his final sculpture, Earth Portal. Butch has been gone now fifteen years… he passed two days after dedicating the sculpture.

Jerry looks through Butch's Portal

Jerry looks through Butch's Portal

I sit on Butch's Portal

I sit on Butch's Portal

Foto by Jerry Bayha

Children playing in the Park were climbing on The Portal… just the way Butch would have wanted it. We our respects, talked about the good times we shared and got back on our bikes, heading up the Ohio River on the West Virginia side… and of course, stopping at Hillbilly Hotdogs in LeSage, West Virginia. Too crowded with bikes to wait for a dog… Good for Sonny and Shari… bad for me and Jerry.

Hillbilly Hot Dogs

Hillbilly Hot Dogs

You can’t make this stuff up.

At the end of the run back home, I just had to take a picture of the gloves Vanessa bought me in 1992… that I’m still wearing when I ride.

Twenty two years old!

Twenty two years old!

What does all this have to do with Memorial Day? Lots!

None of the trivial things I wrote about would have been possible without Those brave souls who put service before self. In my own small way, I take this opportunity to thank those men and women. We can never repay you, but we can remember.

Love, honor and respect to those who have made these simple little life journeys possible!


  1. Comment made on May 28, 2014 by Hamneggs

    way to go Izze 🙂
    I’ll think of you guys camping on the Hudson as were getting ready for Clearwater.
    Missing you this go round will just make Thanksgiving sweeter.
    Love All Ways

  2. Comment made on May 27, 2014 by Al

    Thanks for sharing a great day as seen through your mind and eyes. Cool stuff.

  3. Comment made on May 27, 2014 by HOGAN


    Thank you for always reminding people to never forget. This is my first Memorial Day with out my Dad and I miss his stories similiar to the short you posted (which you could have mentioned to have a tissue ready) when it all came down to it, it didn’t matter what branch you were in we are all Americans fighting for the same cause, our freedom. We laid Dad to rest in the Vetern Cemetery in South Florida and when they handed me the American Flag I could not have been more proud to be his daughter.
    Hope you made Izze some S’more’s

  4. Comment made on May 26, 2014 by mikie

    If I may, share a short clip with you all that’s an interview with my dear late mother, a WWII vet?


  5. Comment made on May 26, 2014 by Joe

    Jorma, thanks as always for the remembrance of those who served or are serving. I spent 11 years in the USAF, and now continue to serve in a stealth capacity.

    In the many years I have served (almost 30 yrs total), I have come across too many dedicated patriots to recount. I have witnessed and heard of many “last great measures of devotion (Lincoln, Abraham, President of the United States), but there’s a recent one that struck me in the “wheelhouse.” I share it here for those of you contemplating other’s sacrifices.

    As I alluded, I serve in a stealth capacity at present. I run a large organization with so many dedicated men and women who are called upon to “go down range” often. A gentleman–I’ll call him Ben to protect his privacy–came to work for me. I passed him in the hall several times and he seemed to not notice me even though I always greeted him. As is my usual, I do a “meet and greet” with each new employee. When it came to meeting with Ben, he came into my office and I greeted him. He was very polite and quickly offered an apology to me: “sir, first let me apologize to you–I’m sure I’ve passed you in the hall and didn’t see you. I suffer from a severe form of myopia that doesn’t allow me to see peripherally at all.”

    I was taken aback, and of course inquired how this happened. Here is one patriot’s story: “Sir, I was a Navy helicopter pilot in Desert Storm. We were flying resupply missions into Iraq and Kuwait during the war. My whole squadron got sick and we had to be evac’d out of the theater. I ended up in Bethesda Naval Hospital in a coma. They later said that my whole squadron had been exposed to Iraqi chemical weapons. The doctors contacted my parents to get them to rush down from NYC to see me because the MRI showed that my brain stem had separated from my brain. They declared me a vegetable, and they were going to recommend that my parent disconnect the ventilator so I could pass. My parents arrived, and they came into the room. I’m told that my Mom kissed me on the forehead, refused to talk to the doctors, and went to the chapel to pray. After about an hour, a Navy corpsman ran into the chapel to tell my Mom that I was awake, sitting up in my bed, but I was blind. They disconnected the ventilator, and I was able to talk. The doctors were dumbfounded–all they could say was that it was ‘nothing short of a miracle’ as they showed my parents the MRI. I spent several months in rehab and therapy eventually recovering to gain the limited vision I have today. I returned to NYC and became a stockbroker working in at the World Trade Center. On 9/11, I was in the South Tower when the North Tower got struck. I worked below the floor that was hit, so me and a few of my buddies climbed a few floors to get a better look at the North Tower. We then got nervous and started to head down–we were headed out of the Tower when the South Tower got struck. We fled. I lost a lot of friends and colleagues that day. I put my application in to join this organization a week later and actually was cleared to join a little over year later.”

    Suffice it to say, I was awestruck. Ben worked for me for about two years and then took another position in a different part of the organization.

    The heroes walk amongst us everyday. God Bless America.

  6. Comment made on May 26, 2014 by Greg Martelli

    The picture of the death camp was stirring ,more real when brought to ground with the tattoo- she didn’t have a choice of pigment color or favorite icon,alouth the image of the buildings is evocative the wearer is animate.
    I had the good fortune of meeting a survivor of Dacchau ,”Ida” ,when my grandmother
    sold her house she in Brooklyn she moved into an apartment building along shore road-Ida was her next door neighbor, she too was a fortunate survivor.she would often join our family for Holiday meals at my grandmothers splendid table.i always wanted to sit next to Ida , who at my insistance( I was 9,10) would recant her experience, she always recanted the stories with poise and dignity, it was like a catharsis for her and she didn’t resent being asked – she felt compelled to share her stories so others might better understand. It catalyzed in me a sustained interest in history – lets learn from it .our freedoms and rights are unassailable??? We can’t take them for granted.

    Yesterday I received a photo , taken Saturday at the St.Avold American cemetery in Alsace Lorraine
    General Pattons granddaughter was kindly placing American/French flags at the graves of those killed in that theatre in WW II.the picture was taken at the grave of THOMAS DOWNING my mothers younger brother(19) who I never met.12 years ago I received a phone call from a PATRICK BRENNAN from Queens, he wanted to meet me and share an experience that changed his life ,my uncle saved his life and was awarded the silver star for his action on the Moselle. The operation was a few days prior to Montgomery’s ill conceived Markrt Garden, Pattons 3rd Army had its fuel diverted to Holland.The infantry and engineers outpaced the armor and captured and advanced carrots the last of 7 bridges crossing the Mosselle at Nancy – 2000 men advanced across the bridge only to suffer 480 casualties in 4 hours , my uncle dragged or carried 8- wounded carrots the bridge to the safe side .today there is a plaque on the bridge , placed in a commemoration ceremony in 2004 with his name on it only .thanks to Patrick Breenan I have the benefit of the incident.
    I have visited the bridge and lock house which is still in use where he spent his last night alive after sustaining a mortal mortar round -Brennan said the next day the tanks rolled up, and took the wounde and dead away.
    There are many stories like this , but it makes you reflect on our freedom and what it takes to preserve it and lest we forget those who according to our great president Lincoln have “Given their last full measure”.
    I do fully enjoy this great land , you get to listen to Hot Tuna , ride our Harley Davidsons and live in a country without fear of OUTSIDE oppressors.

  7. Comment made on May 26, 2014 by johno

    God Bless America!

  8. Comment made on May 26, 2014 by Joey Hudoklin

    Thank you Jorma for your thought provoking writing.
    Freedom has many implications. I too was spared from having to serve in the military. Mine on the other end of the timeline in the early 70’s. I too often take the freedoms granted me/us as U.S.citizens FOR granted.
    Over the last 4 1/2 yrs. I’ve been given freedom from some of the personal demons that could have led me to an early grave. This has allowed me to more appreciate the things in this life that are all too often ignored.
    Being born into this amazing country.
    Good health.
    The sacrifice & dedication of ones who came before me.
    The right to express my feelings at the ballot box.
    This Memorial Day, I’m sad. Santa Barbara, Ca. was my home for 20yrs. Someone in Isla Vista
    took their freedoms to the extreme, and took away the freedom of 6 young folks to live. I feel personally assaulted.
    Sometimes, it’s hard to grasp for some, that the freedom to swing their proverbial fist ends where another persons nose begins.
    Live, & let Live.

  9. Comment made on May 26, 2014 by John B

    Ditto what Rich G said in his second paragraph. Thank you Jorma for your Memorial day thoughts and “Long May you Ride”

  10. Comment made on May 25, 2014 by Rich G

    Having a Son who thankfully just came home for good after four years in the USMC , with two succesful tours in Afg. Having him tell stories of those who were badly injured or paid the ultimate sacrifice appreciate ever more focused on what this day means.
    Thank You for all you do to honor and support our service men’s duty. I only wish our government and our elected officials would do the same by making sure those who do serve are taken care of when they have given all and more for us.
    Peace and happiness to You, Vanessa and the rest of your family on this and every day.

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