Three Great Life Lessons From Alexander the Great

Jean Simon Berthelemy
Painting by Jean-Simon Berthelemy

I am a big fan of history. I love reading and listening to books and documentaries of all kinds of history that ha spanned over the centuries. It is fascinating to see how past world leaders, inventors, athletes, armies, scientists, politicians, wars, etc.

One of the people who has always fascinated me was Alexander the Great. He was a supreme commander who, believe it or not, was actually tutored under the great philosopher, Aristotle! He wasn’t a big man…he was actually a short and stocky man who had two different color eyes…one brown and one blue. He also founded over 20 cities that bore his name…the greatest being the famous city of Alexandria in Egypt. At the peak of his reign, he ruled over 2007731 square miles of the world!!

So, it is no surprise that when I read the following story about Alexander the Great on, it fascinated me and actually reminded me of me some really good concepts and lessons in life, that we all, should never forget! I encourage you to take the lessons that you will read and put them into your heart!!

There is very instructive incident involving the life of Alexander, the great Macedonian king. Alexander, after conquering many kingdoms, was returning home. On the way, he fell ill and it took him to his death bed. With death staring him in his face, Alexander realized how his conquests, his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no consequence.

He now longed to reach home to see his mother’s face and bid her his last adieu. But, he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit him to reach his distant homeland. So, the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last. He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.” With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes.

“My first desire is that,” said Alexander, “My physicians alone must carry my coffin.” After a pause, he continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.

“The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin.”The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes. But no one dare bring the question to their lips.

Alexander’s favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. “O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?”

At this Alexander took a deep breath and said: “I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have just learnt. I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can really cure any body. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So let not people take life for granted.

The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the way to the graveyard is to tell People that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.

And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world.”

Alexander’s last words:  “Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying“.

With these words, the king closed his eyes. Soon he let death conquer him and breathed his last.


Showing Mercy in the Midst of War

Tony Hisgett
Photo Credit: Tony Hisgett via CC Flickr

How many of us have ever known someone that we really didn’t like? They were someone that we considered our rival, our opponent, our enemy. If we were given the chance, we would “take care of them”, hurt or destroy them. But how many of us have ever been in a situation that we could actually take take out our hate and anger on our enemy…then decided to show mercy and take the honorable thing…take the high road and help them?

Today’s tale is a true story that took place during World War 2 in the skies over Europe. It is my hope that you can learn a simple lesson today…that having compassion and mercy for our enemies actually takes more boldness and courage than to take revenge.

Charlie Brown was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton, England. His B-17 was called “Ye Old Pub” and was in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper and deeper into enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton.

After flying the B-17 over an enemy airfield, a German pilot, Franz Steigler was ordered to take off and shoot down the B-17.

When he got closer the B-17, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he “had never seen a plane in such a bad state”. The tail and rear section was severely damaged, the tail gunner was wounded and the top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage. The nose of the plane was smashed and there were holes everywhere.

Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked at the English pilot, Charlie Brown, and saw that Brown was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane.

Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at Charlie to turn around 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane back to the North Sea and to England. He then saluted Charlie Brown, turned away and headed back towards Europe.

When Franz landed he told his commanding officer that he had shot down the B-17 over the sea, and never told the truth to anyone.

Meanwhile, back in England, Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew told everyone at their briefing what had happened, but were then ordered never to talk about it.

More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the German Luftwaffe pilot who had saved his crew. After years of research, Franz was finally found. He had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions. The two pilots met in America at the 379th Bomber Group reunion…together with 25 people who are now alive…all because Franz showed mercy and compassion and never fired his guns that day.

When asked why he didn’t shoot them down, Stigler later said, “I didn’t have the heart to finish off those brave men. I flew beside them for a long time. They were desperately trying to get home and I was going to let them do that. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting a man in a parachute.”


“Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.” ~ Dalai Lama

The American Flag: 13 Folds of Honor

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack via CC Flickr

The history, rituals, and the customs of the United States Military has always fascinated and intrigues me. I hold in highest esteem and respect, all people who has sacrificed their time and/or their lives for their country.

A military tradition that has always been deeply moving to me, is watching the person of a fallen spouse or child, receive the folded American flag during a funeral ceremony.

I often wondered the story behind the folded flag. Why is it folded in that particular manner? What does each fold represent? What is the history behind it?

I recently read a short article on the internet site, Folds of Honor, which answered my questions. It is for this reason that I thought that this would be a great article to share with you. I hope that this story will enlighten and encourage your heart as much as it did mine!


The folded flag has long been a dual symbol of sacrifice and the cost of freedom as well as hope and admiration for those defending our country. As we transition into using the folded American flag as the Folds of Honor logo, please take a moment to read what each of these folds represent:

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it has the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones and were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the U.S. Armed Forces, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.

The Flag That Doesn’t Fly

Field1Between the fields where the flag is planted, there are 9+ miles of flower fields
that go all the way to the ocean. The flowers are grown by seed companies.
It’s a beautiful place, close to Vandenberg AFB.
Check out the dimensions of the flag…
The Floral Flag is 740 feet long and 390 feet wide and maintains the proper Flag dimensions, as
described in Executive Order #10834.
This Flag is 6.65 acres and is the first Floral Flag to be planted with 5 pointed Stars, comprised of White
Each Star is 24 feet in diameter, each Stripe is 30 feet wide.
This Flag is estimated to contain more than 400,000 Larkspur plants with 4-5 flower stems each, for a total of more than 2 million flowers.
For our soldiers….
Please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our servicemen. 

A Little Piece of Home

Photo Credit: via FaceBook
Photo Credit: via FaceBook

Have you ever thought about how precious and fortunate we are to live in the land that we do? After reading the following short story, I am sure that you will think of our land a little differently.

This soldier in Iraq asked his wife to send him dirt (U.S. soil), fertilizer, and some grass seed so that he can have the sweet aroma, and feel the grass grow beneath his feet. When the men of the squadron have a mission that they are going on, they take turns walking through the grass and the American soil — to bring them good luck.

Of all the things he could have asked his wife to send to him from home…he asked for American soil.

Thank you to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces for volunteering to protect us from those that wish harm upon us!

Soldiers Remembrances of D-Day

Photo Credit:  Joint Staff Public Affairs via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Joint Staff Public Affairs via CC Flickr

I recently read an article written by Kim Willsher on TheGuardian,com in which she told many stories of servicemen that participated in D-Day and World War 2. I thought that it would be a great share with all of you. I hope that you would take the time to remember these people and the things that they experienced during this awful time of war.


They stood to attention as straight as their creaking backs would allow and saluted briskly as a lone bugler high up on the old Pegasus Bridge played the Last Post. A minute’s silence followed; the men bowed their heads, dabbed their eyes and remembered the fallen.

Some made one last heroic effort to rise from their wheelchairs, others leaned on sticks or the arms of relatives and friends. Medals glinted in the morning sunshine; rows and rows of them, pinned to still-proud chests.

It may be 70 years on, but the camaraderie remains strong. The old soldiers addressed each other as “brother” and with a valiant slap on the back, as if seven decades had not passed. There were shared nods of recognition between veterans in black and wine-coloured berets, and serving military officers who share the common bond of conflict. Schoolchildren who were hearing about history first hand were hanging on every word.

“One of the reasons it’s wonderful to be here is because everyone is interested in you,” said Neville Foote, 94. “Back home, nobody is interested in us. We’re just old people. I am sometimes asked to go to schools to talk, but the children don’t know about the war and don’t want to know.”

Foote, from Tottington in Lancashire, has no shortage of stories to tell. He arrived in Normandy on D-day on Juno beach with the 51st Highland Division of the Scottish Horse Regiment and spent the rest of the war moving across Europe. He was with the Allied forces that relieved the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp in 1945.

Foote was just 23 when he jumped off the landing craft along with Canadian troops from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and ran on to the French beach “at tea time … don’t ask when that was because we didn’t knowwhat day it was let alone the time,” he says.

“I remember every detail of the landing even now. It was a terrifying experience,” he adds. “We just kept moving. It was the same after D-day, we kept moving across Europe fighting all the way.”

At one point crossing the Rhine, the troop carrier Foote was in hit a mine, killing the man sitting next to him. The survivors had to scoop up the dead man’s remains and carry on. It is hardly surprising that for many decades, the men who returned from D-day and the battle to liberate France, did not talk about their experiences.

“So many were lost. I’m fine about coming back, but certain parts are hard. When you go to the graves and see your mates, just 22 or 23 who never made it, you just feel it here,” as he taps his chest, his eyes fill with tears.

“Still, I like to think I made up for them in life.”

The taking of the bridge in the village of Bénouville, and a second bridge in nearby Ranville, was the first operation of D-day. Troops of the 6th Airborne Parachute Regiment, led by Major John Howard of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, landed at 00.16am in six Horsa gliders and neutralised the two bridges held by German forces in ten minutes, with the loss of only two lives.

Operation Deadstick, as it was known, was the start of the Longest Day. Howard, who died in 1999 aged 86, was later played by actor Richard Todd – himself a D-day parachute veteran – in the Hollywood film of the Allied landings. Howard received a Distinguished Service Order and a Croix de Guerre.

On Thursday, Howard’s daughter Penny Bates laid a wreath at Bénouville, where plaques, monuments, a large sculpture the Avenue de Major Howard, are testimony to the heroism of him and his men.

“I’m here to remember my father and his men and I’m very proud to pay my respects. I have come back here many, many times and it is always an honor and always very emotional and moving. Of course to me he was a hero, but then he was my father.”

Photo Credit: John W. Schulze via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: John W. Schulze via CC Flickr

Joan Woods, whose husband Lt Corp Tom Packwood was in the same glider as Howard, buried her husband’s ashes near Pegasus Bridge after he died eight years ago. “Whenever we traveled on the continent, he always insisted on coming here to pay tribute to friends buried there. He never talked about what happened until the 40th anniversary when he met other veterans here. Only then did he tell me what happened.

“Of course, by then they all had different versions of what had happened because so many years had passed, so they couldn’t agree.”

She added: “Pegasus Bridge defined his life, but like many of the men, my husband’s attitude was that they were trained to do a job and they just got on and did it well.”

After a renovated Centaur tank, found near Pegasus Bridge and one of only five remaining, was inaugurated, the Last Post, Reveille and the Canadian, British and French national anthems were played. Veterans cheered as a dozen second world war planes, including an old Lancaster bomber, flew past.

A group of 12-year-old French schoolchildren from nearby Troarn – which was heavily bombed by the Allies and liberated more than two months after D-day – wore red T-shirts saying: “I am a Child of Freedom. Merci Dear Veteran.”

The youngsters clustered around the old soldiers, listening to their stories and asking questions. Their teacher Jean-Pascal Auvray said: “We brought them here so they can be witnesses to this later. Today they are 12 years old, but when they have their own children and grandchildren, they will remember coming here and meeting the veterans. They will have a direct line with the history.”

Testimonies from Pegasus Bridge

Walter James Baker, 92, from Blackpool

Baker landed on Omaha beach with the Canadian Régiment de la Chaudiere – the only French-Canadian regiment to participate in Operation Overlord. He helped to train the 1st American Infantry Division.

“You just did what you had to do. You didn’t stop to think about being brave, because you were so bloody terrified. I was with boys who were 17, but who would never see their 18th birthday. They were the brave ones, not me. I was older, I learned my bravery from them. They faced the machine guns and opened their shirts. We owe a lot to them.

Sgt Steve Garrard, 91, from Bude, Cornwall, glider pilot

“It’s the first time I have come back. It means a hell of a lot to do this. It’s still very vivid even though many years have passed. I have forgotten many things in between, but not here. The whole D-day operation was so climatic. It was my birthday on June 7th, and I spent it fighting Germans.”

Joe Bruhl, 36, from Missouri

Based with the US army in Italy, Bruhl has served in Africa and Afghanistan.

“I wanted to come here just to talk to these guys, hear the stories of those who were here, who took part in the operation. It is probably the most humbling experience of my life. My grandfather was in the navy in command and control on D-day off Omaha beach and my great uncle was wounded on Utah beach, so there is a family interest.”

John Dennett, 89, from Wallasey, Liverpool

Dennet, a sailor on landing craft depositing troops on Sword Beach, said: “We went back and forth ferrying men onto the beach. The most amazing thing was the sheer volume of ships and boats. You couldn’t see the water there were so many. I have come back to remember them. I was 19 at the time. I go to the cemeteries and see the graves of the 19 and 20-year-olds and I think, that could have been me. You have to remember, the young have to remember. That’s why I visit schools.”

Titus Mills, headmaster of Walhampton School in the New Forest

Mills was at Pegasus Bridge with his son Raffi, 10, carrying a placard saying: “The Young Are Grateful”. “I hardly have the words necessary to explain why it’s important for children to know about this. This is probably the final year the men will come back and I feel it’s enormously important for the younger generation to be able to connect with this period of history and appreciate what these fine old men and women went through. They are living history.”

Raffi said: “It’s really interesting listening to the stories of the war and definitely better than reading it in history books.”

Robert Sullivan, 91, of 3 Para Squadron

Sullivan parachuted into France at 1.30am on the morning of the 6th. His unit had instructions to blow up a bridge at Dives. “Like many others, I missed the landing area. Fortunately I landed. Many of the others drowned. We had to make our way to the bridge. I got there at 9am and it had been partially destroyed, but not completely. So we blew it up. Then we came under heavy fire from the Germans. Coming back, I think that unlike my colleagues, I had the chance to live my life, have my family, and they did not. That’s the main thing I think.”

Let Us Never Forget!

Incredible Facts of D-Day

Photo Credit: Expert Infantry via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Expert Infantry via CC Flickr

This year, June 6, 2014, marks the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. The site, explains D-Day in a short but descriptive way: “On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolph Hitler’s crack troops.”

World War 2 and D-Day has always been intriguing to me, so I decided to look around the web and collect some interesting and fascinating details about this historic day. In the list below, next to each fact that I posted, I listed the name of the website in which I found the specific fact. So, without further ado, here we go…


The largest seaborne invasion in history – CNN

The invasion’s secret code name was Operation Overlord. – CNN

Condoms were issued to soldiers – most were used for covering the end of their rifles to keep them dry. –

Although June 6 is often called D-Day, D-Day is also a generic military term that stands for the day, D, of any major attack. –

The overall military operation was called “Operation Overlord”. The actual landings at Normandy were called “Operation Neptune” –

The Allies created a ruse to convince the Germans that the invasion would take place at Pas de Calais instead of the Cotentin Peninsula. According to the U.S. Army, a dummy base was constructed out of plywood, and inflatable tanks were placed to create the illusion of a massive army division. –

The invasion location was cloaked in secrecy and rumors. Allied leaders were constantly trying  – soldiers knew the exact date, time, and location of the attack until the last minute. All training maps for troops had false names to keep the secret intact. –

The main reason for the secrecy was that the Germans had 55 divisions stationed in France, and the Allies could only bring in about eight divisions to attack on D-Day. –

Famous German General, Field Marshall Rommel, was nowhere near France on June 6. He was celebrating his wife’s birthday in Germany during the invasion. –

There were 6,939 naval ships deployed, holding 195,000 sailors. –

The flat-bottomed landing craft were originally designed to rescue flood victims on the Mississippi river in the US. –

The first two British soldiers that were killed on D-Day were Lt. Den Brotheridge of the 6th Airborne Division and Lance Corporal Fred Greehalgh. Brotheridge was shot in the neck while leading his platoon, and Greehalgh immediately drowned when he stepped out of Brotheridge’s glider. –

The first U.S. soldier that died on D-Day was twenty-eight year old Lt. Robert Mathias of the 82nd Airborne Division. He sustained a bullet wound in the chest right before he jumped out of his aircraft. He commanded his men to follow his lead as he jumped from the plane and died mid-air. –

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing on 6 June 1944 – and 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. –

The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. –

Approximately 10,000 allies were injured or killed. –

Between 4,000 and 9,000 German troops were killed – and it proved the pivotal moment of the war, in the allied forces’ favor. –

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was asleep when word of the invasion arrived. No one dared wake him and it’s said vital time was lost in sending reinforcements. –


Let’s take some time during this time of year to thank our veterans for their honor, bravery and the sacrifices that they gave for the freedoms that we enjoy each day.

Your Life Is No Longer Your Own (Tissues Required)

Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Read an amazing account of incredible sacrifice during World War 2 involving simple towns people.

Around this time each year, Memorial Day, I am reminded of a story that I once heard. Though the exactness of it I cannot confirm, I am assured its basis is quite factual, and its message definitely deserves to be retold.

The story is of a man, Andrew, who was known all his life for selfless sacrifice and good works. He always stood in defense of the defenseless, and toiled without tiring, standing up for the downtrodden and underprivileged. As he grew old, and people tried to honor him for his well-lived life of service, he was reluctant to accept the praise and attention that his community desired to heap upon him. It was then, for the first time, that he told a story that had burned deep in his heart and was hard for him to relate.

Andrew was a young man, thirteen years old and living in Austria, when the Germans invaded. The Austrians, brave and proud, decided to fight back. In the town where Andrew lived, the men and teenage boys organized and destroyed a power plant that the Germans relied on to continue their war effort. The men and boys all knew this would cause great hardship on themselves as well, for they also relied on the power from the plant. But the thing they had not counted on was the swift and severe retribution that would come from the Nazi invaders.

The next morning, before the sun was even up, trucks rolled into town. Soon, the sound of marching soldiers was heard in the streets. The men and boys of the town, twelve years old and older, were ordered to the town square. Andrew found himself standing in a line with the other men and boys, still trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes.

The commanding officer berated them, and told them they were fools to think they could stand against the might of the German army. He told them they were nothing, and their minuscule efforts would not slow down the German war effort, but it would hurt them because a price was going to be paid for their rebellion. He then said that every 20th man in the line would be shot.

As each 20th man was pulled from the line and marched away, Andrew looked down the line and started counting. With horror, he realized that he stood in a 20th position. He trembled with fear as the soldiers moved closer and closer to him, and the shots started to ring out at the edge of town where the unfortunate men were being taken.

As the Germans continued to move down the line, Andrew could see others counting and their eyes turning to him with a look of pity and concern. Andrew found himself wanting to flee, but too frightened to move. Even if he tried to run, the soldiers on the trucks, with the mounted machine guns, would cut him down before he could get ten yards.

But then, in the instant that the last man before Andrew was pulled from the line, the Germans turned their eyes away, and Andrew felt a hand on his shoulder. The hand tightened quickly, and before he knew what had happened, he was jerked forcibly over one spot, and the old man who had been standing next to him moved swiftly to switch positions.

Andrew looked up at the silver haired man and the man smiled. Just before he was taken from the line and led away, the old man spoke quietly to Andrew. “Your life is no longer just your own. Live it for both of us.”
Andrew watched silently as the old man disappeared from view toward the edge of the village. His heart jumped as the shots sounded, shots that Andrew knew should have been his own. In that instant, tears flowing down his face, he determined he would indeed live his life for both of them. From that day he had tried to live so that the unknown old man would have felt his sacrifice was well repaid.

Each time I consider the flags flying by the many graves in the cemetery, thinking back on Andrew’s story, I realized that no one’s life belongs just to them. Each of us owes a debt to many who have paid prices through hardship, hard work, and even the sacrifice of their lives, from which we have benefited.

With the wind gently whipping the flags in the breeze, I, too, renewed my own dedication in how I live my life.
(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at; or visit his website at


Every Flag Tells a Story At Mobile’s Historic Magnolia & National Cemeteries

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

The one thing I enjoy is looking for inspiring and heartwarming stories of all kinds of occasions, experiences and places around the world. Recently, I came across the following article, which, to me, was an interesting and heartwarming story of a national cemetery in Alabama. Since the story and the happenings in the cemetery take place only twice a year (Memorial Day and Veterans Day), I thought that it would be something nice to share with you as we celebrate Memorial Day!

The Avenue of Heroes at Magnolia Cemetery is one again festooned with American flags, thanks to family members who have donated service members’ casket flags. Flown twice a year, at Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the flags line the cemetery’s entrances at Ann Street and at Virginia Street.

The cemetery started the program with the first display of flags in 2007.

The Veterans Administration honors deceased veterans with a large, 6-foot-by-8-foot flag to drape over his or her casket at the funeral. Traditionally, the flag is folded and handed to the surviving spouse after the service. “Most people get one and think, ‘What do I do with this?'” said Tom McGehee, president of the Friends of Magnolia Cemetery. “Then they sit on a shelf or in a closet.”

After a flag is donated to the cemetery, it’s hung from a pole with an engraved plaque attached that includes the veteran’s name, rank, branch of service and war, if applicable, said Janet Savage, executive director of Magnolia Cemetery.

It takes two days for Mark Halseth, cemetery superintendent, to put up all the flags. As of today, 65 flags are flying at the cemetery. “The Internet is amazing,” said Savage, noting that 24 of the flags are from out of state from families who learned about the program online.

Savage’s own uncle’s flag is among those flying at Magnolia. “He was missing in action in World War II, and his flag had been in the closet for 60 years,” she said. “There are a lot of stories out there.”

“It really is a pretty sight on a breezy day,” said McGehee.

When the flags are taken down, they’re stored at the cemetery office until the next holiday. The Friends group even bought a dryer to completely dry the flags before they go into storage.

For more information about the Avenue of Heroes program, contact Janet Savage at (251) 432-8672.

Meanwhile, each of the 3,867 graves at the adjacent Mobile National Cemetery received a miniature American flag, stuck 12 inches from the front of the headstone, on Friday, as they do every Memorial Day.

Usually, a group volunteers to put out the flags and pick them back up, but this year no one stepped up, said Larry Robinson, program support assistant at Barrancas National Cemetery at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.

“We have a contract to put out the flags in case we don’t have volunteers,” Robinson said.

In Pensacola, Boy Scouts are volunteering to adorn the markers of some 30,000 graves, he said.

Established in 1865, Mobile National Cemetery holds the remains of veterans of eight wars: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, War Between the States, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs brochure.

National Cemetery is a closed cemetery, meaning no more interments can take place there.

Freedom Comes With A Price

Photo Credit: Wonderlane via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Wonderlane via CC Flickr

Freedom. There is nothing that is more valued and treasured by an individual. It is that one word that has made millions and millions of people to decide to come to America to live…free to worship, speak, travel, salute the flag, and many, many other wonderful things but freedom is NEVER free! Down through the ages, a great many number of people have sacrificed their lives, their lifestyles, the security of their families and friends…all for the right to enjoy the fruits of Freedom.

We all know about the Declaration of Independence which was created and signed over 200 years ago but what isn’t well known by many people, is the sacrifice and cost that many of the men who signed the declaration suffered.

Kenneth L. Dodge, in his book, Resource, wrote: “Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Their conviction resulted in untold sufferings for themselves and their families. Of the 56 men, five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army. Another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships sunk by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in poverty.

At the battle of Yorktown, the British General Cornwallis had taken over Thomas Nelson’s home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly ordered General George Washington to open fire on the Nelson home. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt. John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and mill were destroyed. For over a year, he lived in forest and caves, returning home only to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion.”

We should all take the time each day to be thankful for the freedom and everything that we have because of the sacrifice of others.

Freedom is a great thing…but so is Sacrifice.

Dressing A Soldier For The Last Time


Photo Credit: Sheep Dog - Impact Assistance's
Photo Credit: Sheep Dog – Impact Assistance’s

This is a picture the military has never let anyone see until now.

This is a picture behind the scenes at Dover Air Force Base where the bodies of fallen soldiers are prepared for burial.

And that includes being properly dressed, all the way down to the smallest detail.
In this picture Staff Sgt. Miguel Deynes is making sure the uniform is just right for an army pilot recently killed in Afghanistan.

There is a very specific process once a fallen soldier is returned home.

The bodies are flown back to the U.S. on a cargo jet.

A team of service members wearing white gloves carries the coffins, covered with flags, to a white van that takes them to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

The remains are washed, the hands are scrubbed clean, and the hair is shampooed. If necessary bones are wired together and damaged tissue is reconstructed with flesh-toned wax.

Sometimes they will use photos, sometimes just intuition to recreate the wrinkles in faces, and the lines around the mouth or the corner of the eyes.

“It has to look normal, like someone who is sleeping.”

Once the body is ready then the uniform is prepared.

That includes putting medals in the proper order on the ribbon rack above the jacket’s breast pocket.
During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 10 to 20 bodies were arriving every day.

The embalmers often worked all night to get the bodies home on time. That can take an emotional toll so the mortuary has a large gym so workers can blow off steam.

Many say they are haunted by how young the fallen soldiers are, and by how many of them leave behind small children.

That’s why Sgt. Deynes says they are advised not to do research into the backgrounds of the soldiers.

“If I knew the story of every individual who went through here, I would probably be in a padded cell.”
The dress uniform being prepared in this particular case will be in a closed casket.

Even so, it will be perfectly tailored, starched and pressed. Everything will be checked down to the last detail.
Sgt. Deynes says, “They’re (the family) not going to see it. I do it for myself. It’s more than an honor it’s a blessing to dress that soldier for the last time.”


Where Does The Time Go?

It is truly amazing how fast time is going. My grandmother used to always say, “the older you get…”the days get longer and the years get shorter.” Isn’t THAT the truth!! The following pictures illustrate this point in a humorous way!!

Time Flies

**WARNING!** They Walk Among Us!!!

Photo Credit: Seattleye via Flickr
Photo Credit: Seattleye via Flickr

This is a warning to EVERYONE in the world…”they” are here…the live and walk with us…and you never know when you may encounter one.  It truly is amazing how many of these creatures we experience…sometimes on a daily basis. I found this “evidence list” recently and decided to share it with everyone who is interested. So, like I previously stated, be warned for ”they” walk among us!


I was at the checkout of a K-Mart. The cashier rang up $46.64 charges. I gave her a fifty dollar bill. She gave me back $46.64. I gave the money back to her and told her that she had made a mistake in MY favor. She became indignant and informed me she was educated and knew what she was doing, and returned the money again. I gave her the money back, same scenario!
I departed the store with the $46.64.
They Walk Among Us and Many Work Retail

I walked into a Starbucks with a buy-one-get- one-free coupon for a Grande Latte. I handed it to the girl and she looked over at a little chalkboard that said ‘buy one-get one free’. ‘They’re already buy-one- get-one-free,’ she said, ‘so I guess they’re both free’. She handed me my free Lattes and I walked out the door.
They Walk Among Us!

One day I was walking down the beach with some friends when one of them shouted, ‘Look at that dead bird!’ Someone looked up at the sky and said, ‘Where?’
They Walk Among Us!

While looking at a house, my brother asked the real estate agent which direction was north because, he explained, he didn’t want the sun waking him up every morning. She asked, ‘Does the sun rise in the North?. When my brother explained that the sun rises in the East, and has for sometime, she shook her head and said, ‘Oh I don’t keep up with all that stuff.’
They Walk Among Us!!

I used to work in technical support for a 24/7 call center. One day I got a call from an individual who asked what hours the call center was open. I told him, ‘The number you dialed is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.’ He responded, ‘Is that Eastern or Pacific time?’ Wanting to end the call quickly, I said, ‘Uh, Pacific.’
They Walk Among Us!

My sister has a lifesaving tool in her car designed to cut through a seat belt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the trunk.
They Walk Among Us!

My friends and I went out to buy beer and noticed that the cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought 2 cases. The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% and gave us a 20% discount.
They Walk Among Us!

I couldn’t find my luggage at the airport baggage area, so I went to the lost luggage office and told the woman there that my bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and I was in good hands. ‘Now,’ she asked me, has your plane arrived yet?’
They Walk Among Us!

While working at a pizza place I observed a man ordering a small pizza to go. He appeared to be alone and the cook asked him if he would like it cut into 4 pieces or 6. He thought about it for some time before responding. ‘Just cut it into 4 pieces; I don’t think I’m hungry enough to eat 6 pieces.’
Yep, They Walk Among Us!


If you have had some similar experiences, please share feel free to share them!

Pictures That Speak Volumes #35

Photo Credit: Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
Photo Credit: Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Starlia Dawson, widow of Army Sgt. Ezra Dawson, 31, of Las Vegas, weeps during his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009.  Dawson, a member of 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Div., from Fort Hood, Texas, was killed last month in Afghanistan in an accidental Chinook helicopter crash. The woman at the right, comforting Ms. Dawson, is unidentified.

Pictures That Speak Volumes #32

Saving a Child

The photograph was taken the day the emerging Wall was put up in August 1961 and the boy was found on the opposite side of the wall from his family. Despite given orders by the East German government to let no one pass, the soldier helped the boy through the barbwire. Near the exact time this photo was taken, it was said that the soldier was seen by his superior officer who immediately detached the soldier from his unit.

Concerning the fate of the soldier, most descriptions that come with photograph say that “no one knows what became of him.”