Remembering and honoring all who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice with their lives on this Memorial Day. Importantly, it is more appropriate to say “Remembering” and/or “Honoring” vs. “Happy Memorial Day” because Memorial Day is not a happy occasion for families and friends who have lost those who served. Talk to anyone who has lost someone in the line of duty, and they will tell you it is not “Happy Memorial Day.” Be sensitive. Words matter.
Memorial Day: Remembering my Distant Cousin, David I. Briggs (1947-1968), Soldier in Vietnam (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)
David I. Briggs, a distant cousin of mine, was a man who I never knew, but whose pain for his loss I felt through the hearts and spirits of his family – his mother, father, and sisters. David was the only son of Ivan Francis Briggs (1907-2000) and Louise (Gullo) Briggs (1915-1997) of North Collins, New York. He was 21 when he and most members of his battalion (C Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division) were killed in heavy gunfire in Tay Ninh, Vietnam on November 23, 1968 (Small, 2001).
It is my understanding from having read an article in the Hamburg Sun, that David’s battalion invaded an opposing forces’ base camp, but underestimated their strength (Gordon, 2012). David and his captain were the first to have sacrificed their lives in that invasion (Gordon, 2012). Thirteen men of the battalion were killed on that November day (Small, 2001).
I met my distant cousins, Ivan, Louise, and one of their twin daughters, in my early to mid-teens while visiting them in North Collins, New York. Louise was a wonderful cook, and it is said that it is one of the reasons that Ivan married her.
From what I observed, Ivan and Louise also had a love for family. Anyone who knew them could sense the pain and loss they carried with them due to the death of their son, David. I remember after having first met Louise and Ivan that I asked my parents about the sense of deep sadness in them that I felt, and discovered that they still grieved the loss of their son, David.
At that time, I was astounded to know that Ivan and Louise still grieved for David after so many years, and realized that he was very much loved by them. I believe they carried that sense of grief and sadness in themselves from the time that David was killed until their own deaths. When I met them, nearly 20 years had passed, and they were still hurting from his death. Family said that it broke Louise’s heart when David was killed; she was never the same after that.
So, while I never knew David, nor, I believe, any men who have been killed during the course of duty in war, I know that they will always be remembered for their bravery and for giving the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. May we remember and honor all those who have gone before us, who have given their lives to make this world a better place. May God bless you, David, and may you rest in peace.
Gordon, C. (July 13, 2012). Traveling Vietnam wall coming to Eden, Briggs remembered. Hamburg, NY: The Sun. Retrieved May 25, 2015. http://www.thesunnews.net/news/916-Traveling_Vietnam_Wall_coming_to_Eden,_Briggs_remembered.html
Small, L.R. (2001). David Ivan Briggs. VirturalWall.org. Retrieved May 25, 2015. http://www.virtualwall.org/db/BriggsDI01a.htm
Remembering American Military Veterans on this Memorial Day (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)
My son put out the American flag today, in special remembrance of America’s military veterans and in celebration of Memorial Day 2014. Putting out the flag has become somewhat of a tradition for him throughout the past few years, particularly since it was a requirement for one of his achievements as a Cub Scout. Today, he put out the flag as a new Boy Scout. Last evening, my family also watched the Memorial Day tribute celebration on television, as broadcasted by PBS. That has also been a tradition in my family for many years. This year is the 25th anniversary of the annual Memorial Day broadcast.
In remembrance of military veterans in my family, I have authored this article, having arranged photos and/or memorabilia of all of those known family members and/or ancestors who have served in the American military. I am thankful for those who have risked their lives and/or who have given their lives for the freedoms that I enjoy.
One important issue to keep in mind, however, is that our freedoms may be our right, but should also be practiced with appropriate reason and rationalization. I stated this, particularly due to interpretations of the Second Amendment of our country’s Constitution, in regard to the right to bear arms. We should all keep in mind that while we have a right to bear arms, that does not mean that we have the right to take another’s life, unless circumstances absolutely warrant it in matters of self-protection. Let us not allow the right to bear arms, as well as monetary-backed interests to that aim, to remain more important than protecting people’s lives.
May we all strive to live together in peace and harmony. Let us all remember the sacrifices of those who serve and who have served in our military forces so that not only our freedoms are maintained, but so that the spirit of democracy may infuse those in other countries, as well. May our military forces stationed in Afghanistan soon return home, and back to our wonderful democracy!
I am also aware that one of the Tomaszewski men (formerly of Gowanda, New York, and now of Chicago, Illinois), a cousin to my mom, was a pilot in the Air Force, possibly in the Vietnam War.
These photos, information, and memorabilia represent individuals within my family, and from my family ancestry, who have served in the American military. My former spouse also briefly served in the military. I salute you for your risks, sacrifices, and in the case of David Briggs, his ultimate sacrifice of his life, for the freedoms and protections of others. While I have taught history, and honor and appreciate our military veterans, I am not one who has the will to risk my life in possible sacrifice in the military. You all are a credit to our country for your service, and to the preservation of democracy.