Today is Memorial Day. It is a day which many Americans remember and reflect on those who served and ultimately gave their lives for their fellow mankind. For some, it is a day off work, others a day to barbecue or to enjoy adult beverages. Some have to work, especially if in the service industry such as fire, police, medical/nursing, corrective services, dispatchers and many others.
This past week, I had the honor and privilege of meeting James “Maggie” Magellas. He is the highest decorated Army Officer of the 82D Airborne Division. He served with the 504 Regiment. He was a normal American of European ancestry and grew up in Wisconsin. When called to serve his nation, he became a communication officer, later a glider pilot and ultimately served as an infantry platoon leader.
I listened to him speak about his journey to Italy via Northern Africa. The 101st Airborne is well known in American history and has been portrayed in films such as Band of Brothers. The 101st was part of the D-Day invasion to liberate Europe penetrating the beaches of France. The 82D served in the sands of North Africa and worked their way to Italy and Germany.
He described his accounts across the Waal River and noted the leading officer to bang on the side of a tiny boat repeating “Hail Mary, full of grace. Hail Mary, full of grace”. Bullets whizzed past and shells exploded around. This was a daytime river crossing, during broad daylight, in which the Germans held the high ground and had the tactical advantage.
He continued with the airborne operation into Nijmegen during Operation Market Garden. This was demonstrated in the movie “A Bridge Too Far”. An example of an airborne insertion into enemy territory was shown.
I purchased his book All the Way to Berlin and he has a film documenting his time in the 82D in conjunction with the World War II Foundation, Tim Gray Media, and Ocean State Media. Here is the link to the trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg8XA3BjgFg
You may also see the show on PBS or can order directly from him. Per Mr. Megellas, “Lead from the front and your men will follow”.
I have been fortunate to get to know a few veterans along my journey in life. Mr. Megellas served in WWII. Tom Lyons of Minnesota served in Korea, JP Winstead served in the Pacific in WWII and his son in Viet Nam. A gentleman I attend church with was a Green Beret in the Pacific during Viet Nam. Jim Lane served in Somalia. I have had the privilege of meeting folks who were in the military in Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm, and others who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I ask that you take a moment and say a prayer for all people around the world as we all work towards world peace. I do not know anyone wishing for war. Some did volunteer to serve while others were called by their nation. Others found service locally in fire, law enforcement, medical, teaching or other government service. Take a moment to thank those, pray for those who have been affected by war, violence, and loss, and enjoy this Memorial Day.
Make It Fun!