Former Marine, Steve Kaliszewski Reminds us about the True Meaning of Memorial Day

As a former Marine, Steve Kaliszewski understands the tragedies of war. He served two combat deployments to Fallujah, Iraq and lost many close brothers that he served with. He shares how Memorial Day is more than a day to celebrate with a picnic, or to have a day off from work. As he also points out, Memorial Day is not the same as Veteran’s Day. Veteran’s Day celebrates our Veterans who paid with their service, while Memorial Day remembers those who paid with their lives. Some people may not understand why a Veteran doesn’t respond with a smile on their face as someone excitedly says, “Happy Memorial Day”. With this in mind, they may have a better understanding as to why.
When we look at the overwhelming sights of Arlington National Cemetery, and cemeteries around the nation, we can be taken in by the many white headstones and not connect the reality that each of those headstones represent someone’s father, a brother, a son, a mother, or a sister. Without a story of who these amazing people are, we can easily disconnect from the weight of this precious moment. There are many stories that Steve could have shared, but one always comes to mind.
Steve remembers Deal, aka “Doc”, or as his family knows him, Lee Hamilton Deal, always being the one that was sharing a joke, even when receiving enemy fire. Deal was the kind of guy that always had you rolling. While on a nighttime gun range, Steve remembers Deal sharing a story from his days as a kicker with LSU’s football team. When attending a certain sports game, his name was elected to win the grand prize of kicking the ball through the goal posts. The crowd was cheering until he was about to approach the ball. When they suddenly realized who it was, they told him he didn’t quality and couldn’t kick the ball.
When it was Steve’s team that was out on operations, carrying out patrols, it would often be Deal that was back at the Command Center receiving reports on the team’s activity. Little did they know that upon receiving intelligence, the whole platoon would move together to an objective. It was on this objective that Deal was killed as he was shot from enemy gunfire. When Steve heard Deal’s information over the radio, he knew the tragic reality that had taken place.
Another team member dragged Deal off the objective as the location was cleared. Steve remembers the green images of picking up Deal and carrying him off the objective as he followed his eyes, as his night vision allowed him to see, and laid Deal on the hood of a Humvee. Steve had no idea that this was the last moment that he would see Deal.
The realities of Memorial Day weigh much heavier upon us when these stories become personal and close to our hearts. When we look across the rolling hills of Arlington National Cemetery, each of the headstones begin to have new meaning for us. In our current generation, those that are killed while in combat are buried in Section 60 of Arlington, unless families dictate otherwise. If the sight of Arlington is not somber enough, it is visiting the same location a few years later and seeing the indescribable sight of the number of rows of new plots that have been added in such a short amount of time, highlighting the undeniable cost of freedom.
As we remember those precious men and women on Memorial Day, the bugle call of Taps brings new meaning to all of us. We thank God for everyone who served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Our hearts and prayers go out to every Gold Star Family. See the full story of this important day, and so much more. Also shared in this segment: Marine Corps, Army, National Guard, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, President Trump, Trump Administration, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Sentries, Taps, military veterans, Iraq War, Global War on Terrorism, Fallujah Iraq, honor, The United States Army Band, and gratitude. Greg and John shared in this segment. 

screen capture from White House 



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