Posts Tagged ‘The greatest Generation’

Thank You for Your Service: Memorial Day 2017

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

Thank You for Your Service to America

Written by Tony Mussari
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project

These fallen heroes represent the character of a nation who has a long history of patriotism and honor – and a nation who has fought many battles to keep our country free from threats of terror. Michael N. Castle 


In the lifetime of our country, more than 1.3 million soldiers gave their lives for America. More than 1.4 million soldiers were wounded defending American values and more than 40,000 went missing in action.

In World War II, fought between 1941-1945, we lost 297 Americans every day of the war.

In World War I, fought between 1917-1918, we lost 279 Americans every day of the war.

In Korea, fought between 1950-1953, we lost 45 Americans every day of the war.

In Vietnam, fought between 1967-1975, we lost 11 Americans every day of the war.

The Father of Memorial Day

We owe a debt of gratitude to Major General John A. Logan, a Civil War general who in 1868 established a tradition commonly known as Decoration Day. At the time, General Logan was commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ group known as the Grand Army of the Republic.

He encouraged Americans to visit cemeteries and decorate the graves of the 620,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War, the deadliest of all American wars.

He described it with these words:

(It) is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During World War I, Decoration Day was expanded to include the fallen of all wars.

Memorial Day did not become a federal holiday until 1971.

The Teacher-in-Chief

I have been thinking a lot about this novel concept of the President of the United States as the Teacher-in-Chief. So I thought it might be helpful to include a few pearls of wisdom from Presidents who had something encouraging and insightful about the men and women we celebrate on Memorial Day:

In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved. Franklin D. Roosevelt

We owe our eternal gratitude to the 2.7 million Americans who gave their lives or were seriously injured in America’s wars.

America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. Harry S. Truman

I watched Tom Brokaw’s documentary The Greatest Generation. During the program he made these two points:

When the war ended, more than twelve million men and women put their uniforms aside and returned to civilian life. They went back to work at their old jobs or started small businesses; they became big-city cops and firemen; they finished their degrees or enrolled in college for the first time; they became schoolteachers…

A common lament of the World War II generation is the absence today of personal responsibility.

President Ronald Reagan offered these touching thoughts at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1986:

Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.

In the CBS news the story of The Lost Platoon of the Vietnam War, Kenny Barker, shared this profound thought with John Blackstone:

Be the best you can be every day, because you can’t let 22 people down.

Blackstone characterized this as “survivor’s obligation.”


I can think of no better way to end this tribute to the fallen, their courage, their determination, their service, their discipline, and their heroism than to include the words of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper as recorded in her poem God Bless Our Native Land:

God bless our native land,

Land of the newly free,
Oh may she ever stand
For truth and liberty.

God bless our native land,
Where sleep our kindred dead,
Let peace at thy command
Above their graves be shed.

God help our native land,
Bring surcease to her strife,
And shower from thy hand
A more abundant life.

God bless our native land,
Her homes and children bless,
Oh may she ever stand,
For truth and righteousness.

Thank you for your service to America, God bless you.

Pictures in this article are part of Library of Congress collection. Photographer Carol M. Highsmith took some of the pictures.

U.S. military casualties of war were obtained from an extensive report published on

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Heroes without Headlines: Joseph Boytin, Part 7

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Heroes without Headlines: Joseph Boytin, Part 7

Written by Tony Mussari
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Digital Photographs Tony Mussari
Copyright 2013
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

“A memory is a photograph taken by the heart to make a special moment last forever.” Unknown

A note from a friend, some bumps in the road and a funeral for aFG_JB_5_sm member of the “Greatest Generation” got me thinking about life, death and everything in between.

The note contained an inspiring message about what really matters in life. It was the opposite of just about everything we hear and see in our cluttered, cultural celebration of fame, wealth and power. These, we are told, are the superhighways to happiness and joy. The note from my friend was filled with examples of caring, encouraging, and helping. It reinforced a powerful and poignant message Kitch and I got earlier in the week at St. John the Baptist Church in Larksville, Pennsylvania.

We were there to stand with a former student, Jeff Yedloski and his family, as he said good-bye to his grandfather, Joseph Boytin.


Mr. Boytin was a devoted husband, a loving father, a proud grandfather, a successful coach, a mailman and a friend to many. He served his country with distinction during World War II. At 94, he was one of the 16 million veterans who have been celebrated in quiet and poignant ways for what they did to free the world  from the totalitarian thugs who wanted to build a new world order of exclusion, intolerance and supremacy.

On this day, he was one of the World War II veterans who dieFG_JB_2_sm every ninety seconds in America.

St John the Baptist is a beautiful church. It is filled with artifacts of the church of my parents, a towering marble altar and larger than life spiritual paintings that speak to the love and forgiveness of Christ’s message. In this magnificent setting, Father Gerald Gurka spoke with empathy and honesty about the loss of a loved one:


There aren’t any words to relieve your pain;

Mr. Boytin’s death reminds us that we live on God’s time. Death is a homecoming;

We are hurting, but life continues;

Whenever we do something that your grandfather loved, he is very much alive, because his life was a reflection of the Beatitudes. He was generous, kind, dedicated, loving and committed to serving his community. In so doing, he created something beautiful which is in you;

Work is love named discipline.”

In a very real way, Father Gurka was giving life to the words of Scripture:

Behold God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.

At St. Mary’s Cemetery, I watched the members of the AshleyFG_JB_7_sm American Legion salute the man who earned the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Medal and the European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with three bronze stars.

The pallbearers reverently carried his flag-draped coffin into the chapel where Father Gurka was waiting to say these words of farewell:

FG_JB_8_smThis is his flag, and this is our spiritual heritage.

Joseph Boytin is a genuine hero without headlines and a Face of America on its best day. He will be remembered for all the things that matter in life: family, faith, confraternity, neighborliness, industry, learning, empathy, kindness, responsibility and selfless service to his community and his country.

His life is a portrait of America at its very best. His legacy lives on in his family and those who were touched by the gentle mercies of his caring heart.

Charles H. Spurgeon wrote the words that best apply to Joseph Boytin’s life:

A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.

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