Category Archives: War

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

The term ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was initiated when President Bill Clinton signed a law regarding the service of homosexuals in the military, which directed military personnel to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue, don’t harass.’

Leonard P. Matlovich was an Air Force sergeant who served three tours of duty in Vietnam and was gravely wounded. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and two Air Force Commendation medals for gallantry under fire and exemplary service. Yet, despite his service, he was discharged from the U.S. Air Force after confessing his sexuality to his commanding officer. His struggle to receive an honourable discharge, rather than the general discharge advocated by the Air Force, triggered a national movement regarding gay rights especially in the military.

Knowing that he had AIDS at a time when it was a death sentence, he designed his own headstone with the idea that it would stand as a memorial for all gay veterans.

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His design of a black reflective surface replicating the Vietnam War Memorial incorporated two triangles referencing the pink triangle which was a symbol sewn on the clothes of homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps. The left triangle pointing downward is a symbol of defeat. It is highlighted with the legend, ‘Never Again.’ The upward pointing triangle on the right is a symbol of victory with the phrase, ‘Never Forget.’ Although the dates of his birth and death are inscribed on the headstone, his name (Matlovich) is only inscribed at the foot of the memorial.

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As an activist for Gay Rights, his words are inscribed on his headstone: ‘When I Was In The Military They Gave Me A Medal For Killing Two Men And A Discharge For Loving One.’ Although eligible to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery he chose to be interred in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC. “I believe we must be the same activists in our deaths that we were in our lives,” Leonard Matlovich. A gay veteran’s memorial service is held at his grave every Veteran’s Day.

military gay

Members of American Veterans for Equal Rights have purchased adjoining plots with the intention of creating an LGBT veterans memorial.

This marker for Marine Corps veteran and activist Tom Swann is located near Matlovich’s grave. Swann won a lawsuit against the Navy for discrimination against him as a civilian employee after they learned he was gay. He also led the creation of a memorial for LGBT veterans in Desert Memorial Park near Palm Springs. Never Give Up Hope Or Give In To Discrimination.

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Michael William Hildebrand’s stone does not state that he is gay. However, the use of the pink triangle and the proximity to Matlovich’s grave suggests such. An inscription reads, “It Was Said Of Him That He Had The Gift To Give Love To Those Who Felt Unloved.”

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macdonald sanders

CWGC Graves

Following the two World Wars, discussion and agreement by Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom (member countries of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) on the burial of the dead created a standardized format encompassing burial sites, layout and size of the gravestones, and the legend on headstones.

Commonwealth countries built burial sites close to combat zones to preserve the link with the battlefield, whereas the United States and France created huge regional cemeteries intended to make a significant impression on people’s minds.

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National Cemetery, Los Angeles, USA

The graves were arranged in straight rows and designed to be perpetual and permanent. The material used in the headstones varied due to the requirement of a weather resistant substance or occurrence of earthquakes.

The standard used ensured that every grave was marked with a headstone, originally 76 centimetres (30”) tall, 38 cm (15”) wide, and 7.6cm (3.0”) thick,  with upper case lettering designed by MacDonald Gill.

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Graves in Germany. Image Source: thebignote.com

Each stone contained the national emblem or regimental badge, rank, name, unit, date of death and age of each casualty. In the case of burials of Victoria Cross or George Cross recipients, the regimental badge was supplemented by the Victoria Cross or George Cross emblem.

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Image Source: thebignote.com

An appropriate religious symbol was included; most often a cross denoting Christianity, and sometimes a personal dedication chosen by relatives.

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Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. J. F. Kennedy

Far away in a distant land,
Suddenly struck by death’s strong hand
A loving son, strong and brave,
Lies buried in a soldier’s grave.

bignote1
Image Source: thebignote.com

No one knows the silent heartache,
Only those can tell
Who have lost their loved ones
Without saying one farewell.
We pictured him safely returning,
We longed to clasp his hand,
But God has postponed the meeting,
Till we meet in a better land.

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Image Source: thebignote.com

No one knows the silent heartache, 
only those that have lost can tell
Of the grief that’s borne in silence
For the one we loved so well. 

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Image Source: the bignote.com

And when he gets to Heaven,
To Saint Peter he will tell:
‘Just another soldier reporting, Sir.
I’ve served my time in Hell.’ Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

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Do not ask us if we miss him,
There is such a vacant place;
Can we e’er forget that footstep,
And that dear familiar face.

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Image Source: thebignote.com

No loved one stood beside him to bid a last farewell,
No word of comfort could he leave to those he loved so well.
We little thought his time so short in this world to remain,
Nor that from when his home he went he would never return again.

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He marched away so bravely, His young head proudly held;
His footsteps never faltered, His courage never failed,
There on the field of battle, He calmly took his place,
He fought for King and Country, And the honour of his race.

…And decades later, the men and women who served are still remembered and accorded the same burial.

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MAN’S BEST FRIEND

Historically, dog statues were built at the feet of medieval women, signifying the loyalty and inferior place of each in the chivalric order. They symbolized loyalty and served as guides on the journey to the afterlife.

MILAN ITALY
Milan, Italy

LONDON, ENGLAND.
In Highgate Cemetery, the grave of Tom Sayers is guarded by his dog. He was a small stature, bare-knuckle boxer and the first to be declared World Heavyweight Champion. In a career lasting 11 years he was only once defeated. His retirement at age 35 was funded by the public (proof of his popularity). However, his retirement was short lived when he died 5 years later. The love of the people for this man was shown once more when they had a statue made of his loyal dog, Lion, to lay next to him for eternity.

Highgate_flickr nick harrod
Creative Commons License, Nick Garrod. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/belowred/2407857092/

ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS, USA
In 1878 special permission was given for a dog to be buried in Chippiannock Cemetery as a memorial to its dedication and loyalty. When Eddie, 5 years old, and Josie, 9 years old, died of diphtheria on the same day, October 22nd, 1878, the dog sat by the grave from dawn to dusk every day. After his death a statue of the dog was erected next to the Dimmick children’s graves. Although there is no name of the dog on the marker, it is known by cemetery employees as “Rex.”

BOSTON, MA, USA
The Forrest Hills Cemetery contains the resting place of Henry Barnard 1810-1853 and his wife Lucinda Barnard 1813-1913. It is surmounted by a sandstone sculpture of a Newfoundland dog, created by Henry Dexter in 1854.

Barnard_flickr havemorecake
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/havemorecake/6094707433

PARIS, FRANCE
The St. Bernard Hospice in Bern, Switzerland used a dog similar to the St. Bernard breed as a search and rescue dog. A dog named Barry became famous for saving more than 40 people during his lifetime.. A memorial to this dog is located in Le Cimetière des Chiens, (the Cemetery of Dogs) in the Asnières-sur-Seine suburb of Paris. A plaque on the monument states, Il sauva la vie à 40 personnes. Il fut tué par le 41ème He saved the lives of 40 people. He was killed by the 41st. There are several legends regarding the dog which have been disputed including his death. Barry was retired after a 12 year career and brought to Bern where he died at age 14. Read more on the history of this dog at this link, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_(dog)

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Source: http://www.coolstuffinparis.com/photos/cimetiere_des_chiens_2/3.jpg

GETTYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA, USA
Sallie was the mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War. She accompanied soldiers into battle and was found protecting the dead and wounded on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. She was killed by a bullet 2 years later and buried where she fell. A statue of the brindle-coated pit bull lies at the base of the 11th PA infantry monument in Gettysburg.

LONDON, ENGLAND.
The grave of 50 year old William French who attempted to rescue his friend’s dog is located in St Pancras & Islington Cemetery. George R. Sims from the Daily Telegraph arranged for burial of the body and the erection of a memorial. Details of the story at this link is worth a read: https://studiedmonuments.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/william-french-drowned-for-a-dog/

The inscription on the stone reads, Sacred / To The Memory Of / William French/ Aged 50, Who Lost His Life On July 13th. 1896 / While Saving A Dog From Drowning / In Highgate Ponds / This Monument / Erected In Commemoration Of / His Brave Deed / Was Raised By Public Subscription / And Was Contributed To By / All Classes Of / Lovers Of Dumb Animals

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Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/simon_p_white/2480353221/in/set-72157601573482501

DAYTON, OHIO, USA
In 1860 when Johnny Morehouse was only 5 years old, he fell into the Miami/Erie canal. His faithful dog tried unsuccessfully to save him. After burial in Woodland Cemetery the dog would not leave the graveside and died of starvation. A stone was erected in 1861. Visitors to the cemetery have reported the ghosts of Johnny and his dog playing in the cemetery.

 

Douaumont Cemetery

This post is in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme which took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. Fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire, it was the largest battle of the First World War. More than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

The Battle of Verdun, conducted on a battlefield covering less than 20 square kilometers, became known as The Hell of Verdun. Approximately 230,000 men died out of a total of 700,000 casualties (dead, wounded and missing).

fields of battle
I always find graves in the winter more compelling – their suffering seems never ending.

Located in northeastern France within the Verdun battlefield, the Douaumont Cemetery has been designated a national cemetery. It contains bodies collected from the battlefield at the end of the war interred in 16,142 graves, making it the largest single French military burial place of the First World War.

The simple cross military marker hosts a metal plate engraved with the name of the fallen soldier; last name, first name, middle name; Battalion; ‘Killed In France’ with the date of death. There are also a large number of Muslim markers.

Within the cemetery is a memorial known as the Douaumont Ossuary containing the skeletal remains of over 130,000 unidentified French and German soldiers who died on the Verdun battlefield. The tower contains beautiful stained glass windows and a bronze death-bell which is sounded at official ceremonies. At the top of the tower is a rotating red and white “lantern of the dead”, which shines on the battlefields at night.

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Source: https://worldwaroneacenturylater.wordpress.com/tag/verdun/

From FOR THE FALLEN by Laurence Binyon
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

…LEST WE FORGET

POSTSCRIPT 7/31/2016 just found an interesting article at this link.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-22/gravestone-factory-commemorating-war-dead/7650896

 

Warriors

With the approach of Remembrance Day ceremonies throughout the Commonwealth, it is a good time to honour the millions killed in conflicts throughout the world.

Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind. J. F. Kennedy

Source: http://thebignote.com/
Source: http://thebignote.com/

SQUADRON LEADER D M DAVIDSON, DFC
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
6TH JANUARY 1946 AGE 26
UNTIL THE DAWN BREAKS
AND WE MEET AGAIN
ALWAYS IN OUR THOUGHTS.
Squadron Leader D M Davidson received the Distinguished Flying Cross. He flew a Spitfire XIV TZ106 with 453 Squadron. The aircraft entered low cloud at about 100 feet and was seen to emerge from the cloud and strike the ground in Wichling, Kent, England.

 

http://thebignote.com/
http://thebignote.com/

3797 PRIVATE
HOLLOWAY
ROYAL NEWFOUNDLAND REGT.
17TH OCTOBER 1918 AGE 22

No loved one stood beside him to bid a last farewell,
No word of comfort could he leave to those he loved so well.
We little thought his time so short in this world to remain,
Nor that from when his home he went he would never return again.

 

http://thebignote.com/
http://thebignote.com/

16/988 LANCE CPL.
KATAU
N.Z. CYCLIST BATTALION
6TH OCTOBER 1918 AGE 23
The Cyclist Battalion was intended as a mobile light infantry. Read more at http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/anzac-cyclists

 

bignote_ramc
Source: http://thebignote.com/

COLONEL
J.D. ALEXANDER CBE DSO
ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
9TH JULY 1922 AGE 55
The CBE, Commander of the British Empire, is the 3rd highest level that can be achieved within the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) is a military decoration of the United Kingdom awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime.

Do not ask us if we miss him,
There is such a vacant place;
Can we e’er forget that footstep,
And that dear familiar face.

 

bignote2
Source: http://thebignote.com/

LIEUTENANT
JOSEPH HALL HEWITT RNVR
HMS “ARROGANT”
26TH FEBRUARY 1919 AGE 34
RNVR is an acronym for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.
HMS “Arrogant” was built in 1895. It was in service during WWI as the Dover depot ship for submarines and motor launches.

Far away in a distant land,
Suddenly struck by death’s strong hand
A loving son, strong and brave,
Lies buried in a soldier’s grave.

 

Edinburgh_Newington_SoldiersTHEIR NAME LIVETH FOREVER MORE
TO THE HONORED MEMORY OF ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE BRITISH SAILORS AND SOLDIERS WHO GAVE
THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY DURING THE GREAT WAR1914-1918 AND WHO ARE BURIED IN THIS CEMETERY
FIFTY THREE OF WHOM LIE IN THIS PLOT AND TWELVE OTHERS WHO ARE NOT COMMEMORATED ELSEWHERE.
Located at Newington Cemetery, Edinburgh, Scotland.

No one knows the silent heartache,
Only those can tell
Who have lost their loved ones
Without saying one farewell.
We pictured him safely returning,
We longed to clasp his hand,
But God has postponed the meeting,
Till we meet in a better land.

France_Paris_MontparnasseMontparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France
France_Paris_Montparnasse_War weeping

No one knows the silent heartache, 
Only those that have lost can tell 
Of the grief that’s borne in silence 
For the one we loved so well. 

 

France_Paris_Pere lachaise_Polish MemorialThis memorial is located in Père-Lachaise-Cemetery in Paris, France. It commemorates the Polish soldiers who were killed during the liberation of France in the Second World War.
French: Aux Polonais/ Morts/ Pour La France
Polish: Polakom / Polegeym/ Za Francie

 

The Los Angeles National Cemetery is located in West Los Angeles, California, at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard. The 114 acre cemetery was dedicated on May 22, 1889. The chapel was renamed the Bob Hope Veterans Chapel on May 29, 2002 (Hope’s 99th birthday), in “celebration of his lifelong service to our American Veterans”.

 

londonTHE WOMEN OF WORLD WAR II, LONDON
Located near the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, England, this memorial was unveiled in 2005 to honour the service of women during the Second World War. It was sculpted by John W. Mills.

 

newsbbcimgS D F
A SOLDIER OF THE 1939/1945 WAR. SUDAN DEFENCE FORCE
This unknown soldier was a member of the British Army unit, the Sudan Defence Force (SDF.) It was formed in 1925 to maintain the borders of the Sudan under the British administration.

He marched away so bravely, His young head proudly held;
His footsteps never faltered, His courage never failed,
There on the field of battle, He calmly took his place,
He fought for King and Country, And the honour of his race.

 

Orangeville Forest Lawn1914-1918 & 1939-1945
TO PERPETUATE THE MEMORY OF VETERANS WHO REST IN THIS PLOT ERECTED BY ORANGEVILLE BRANCH NO. 233 CANADIAN LEGION 1946

 

south african
Source: http://thebignote.com/

22086 BURG.
COETZEE
2DE Z.A. INFANTERIE
23 OCTOBER 1918
South African infantry

This final image of Sutherlin, Oregon, USA, needs no words.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/curtis4x5/6002805377/in/pool-douglascntyor/ - Sutherlin oregon
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/curtis4x5/6002805377/in/pool-douglascntyor/ – Sutherlin oregon

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