A Memorial Day reflection

Our family has been fortunate in service to our country. Many members of my family on both sides have served in the military during wartime, and all but one of them came back. The one who gave his life, my great-uncle John Edward Morrissey, died during World War II in the Merchant Marine. My cousin Mike, also a veteran, tells the story:

John Edward Morrissey, our grandfather’s youngest brother, was a Merchant Marine. He served aboard a U.S. tanker Eugene V.R. Thayer. En route to Caripito, Venezuela from Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Eugene V.R. Thayer is pursued and shelled by Italian submarine Pietro Calvi at 02°20’S, 39°30’W; 11 of the tanker’s crew are killed in the engagement that ends when Eugene V.R. Thayer is abandoned and later sinks off the coast of Brasil on 13 April 1942.

He died on his 21st birthday, 9 April 1942.

My father, the Admiral Emeritus, served in the Army in Korea. The First Mate’s father was a Marine Corps pilot who served in both World War II and Korea, flying Corsairs in the Pacific. My father’s oldest brother went into the Navy and became part of the Seabees, and his other brothers served in the armed forces as well. My cousins have volunteered for duty. The next generation now serve in the military, and at least two of them have served or are serving in Iraq.

On my mother’s side, two of her brothers served in Vietnam, in the Marine Corps and the Army. Her third brother volunteered for the Air Force at the end of that war and spent 14 years serving his country.

America has never lacked for heroes, men and women who exemplify patriotism, honor, duty, and sacrifice. All of us, whether Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, have members of our family who have devoted time in their lives to our country; we’re all connected to them.

Today we remember those like John Edward Morrissey who gave their lives or their health to protect and defend our nation. They served without hesitation and they gave their all for our nation, regardless of whether we agreed on the fight itself — and regardless of that, we owe them recognition of their honor and courage in serving this nation. Join us in prayer or in thought, and remember to fly the flag as a sign of respect for their sacrifice.

Our deepest thanks go out to them all, and to the families they left behind.