The Body Bearers of Marine Barracks – a Memorial Day Reflection

This is a somber holiday, to remember those who have made the final sacrifice. Sometime this weekend, amid the shopping, beach-going, and picnics, take time to reflect and say a prayer or read about how this tradition began. Share it with your families, your children.

Given the press about our flag since last year, this video is especially timely.  For friends who have given their lives, for friends who have buried their soldiers, for families who survive the loss of a loved one, we are a grateful nation. Such gratitude is shown here by the Body Bearers of Marine Barracks.

[For newsletter subscribers, to view video above click link below]

“Bravo Company is home to the Marine Corps Body Bearer Section. The section is comprised of 15 Marines whose primary mission is to bear the caskets at funerals for Marines, former Marines, and Marine family members at Arlington National Cemetery and the surrounding cemeteries in the National Capitol Region. On occasion, they are called to travel to locations all around the country to support funerals for senior statesmen, heads of state, and former Presidents of the United States.

The Body Bearer section is also the saluting battery at MBW, firing three 40mm cannons located at the south end of the parade deck. The saluting battery renders honors for special events and visiting dignitaries.

The road to becoming a Body Bearer is not an easy. Each member has to demonstrate that he has the bearing and physical strength to carry out this mission. A typical day for a Body Bearer includes several hours of ceremonial drill practice and intensive weight training and conditioning. The remainder of the day includes infantry knowledge and skills proficiency training.”

Excerpt from Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.

 

 

“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”

– James A. Garfield
May 30, 1868 Arlington National Cemetery
 
For perspective this Memorial Day, here is a fatalities chart.
 

Fatalities from U.S. Wars and Conflicts

American Revolution (1775-1783) 4,435
War of 1812 (1812-1815) 2,260
Mexican War (1846-1848) 13,283
Civil War (1861-1865) 620,000
Spanish-American War (1898-1902) 385
World War I (1917-1918) 116,516
World War II (1941-1945) 405,399
Korean War (1950-1953) 36,574
Vietnam War (1964-1975) 58,220
Gulf War (1990-1991) 383
Afghanistan War (2001-present) 2,381
Iraq War (2003-2012) 4,500

(Source PBS.org, Checks out fairly closely to Congressional Research Service CRS Report April 26, 2017)

Discover Memorial Day Traditions and Activities *

Every Memorial Day, families and communities across the nation take time to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. Americans observe this special holiday in many different ways. Review some of the most popular Memorial Day traditions below.
 
Displaying the Flag
On Memorial Day, the U.S. flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon. In the morning, the flag should be raised momentarily to the top and then lowered to half-staff. Americans can also honor prisoners of war and those missing in action by flying the POW/MIA flag.
 
Visiting Grave Sites
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because communities honored their war dead by decorating their graves with flowers. Many Americans make special flower arrangements and deliver them as a family to grave sites of their loved ones and ancestors.
 
Participating in the National Moment of Remembrance
In accordance with a congressional resolution passed in 2000, Americans pause wherever they are at 3:00 p.m. local time for a moment of silence to remember and honor the fallen.
 
Visiting Local Veterans’ Homes and Hospitals
Many living American veterans require long-term medical care or housing assistance, and they can often feel forgotten. The Memorial Day holiday is a great time to let them know that we appreciate their sacrifice and that of their families and their friends lost in battle.
 
Attending Memorial Day Parades
The Memorial Day parade is a time-honored tradition in cities and towns across America. Neighbors come together to remember with pride those who sacrificed so much for our country.
 
Experiencing the Nation’s Memorials
Memorial Day can also be an opportunity to visit or read about the national memorials in Washington, D.C., as well as local memorials around the country.Brushing up on Family and American History
Memorial Day is a favorite time for Americans to read their family history, look at old photographs and learn about their ancestors, especially those who died in the service of their nation. It’s also an occasion for reading Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and other historic and patriotic speeches by presidents and leaders of the armed services.

Wearing Memorial Day Poppies
The tradition of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day was inspired by the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrea. War worker Moina Michael made a personal pledge to always wear red silk poppies as an emblem of “keeping the faith with all who died,” and began a tradition that was adopted in the United States, England, France, Australia and more than 50 other countries.

[*Source – PBS.org]

May 27, 2017

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About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

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