SGT Ed Mitchell Tribute

SGT Ed Mitchell Tribute,
Bushnell National Cemetery,
28 May 2013

Ed Mitchell 2

Show me a Nation that honors its dead, and I will show you a Nation.

A Nation and people who appreciate the legacy they left as well as that Nation’s  appreciation for their sacrifices in helping preserve the liberty we cherish.

It is our way of immortalizing them and the lessons they taught us, the memories they left us, and the important, if not great, accomplishments or achievements of their life.

So it is today as we honor Ed Mitchell as part of the Memorial Day weekend as we take time to honor those whom have gone before us, setting that example of patriotism – a love for our country and the ideal behind our existence; the ideal emblematic in our National Colors that led men and women in our quest of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. His General Order No. 11 in part describes the purpose of Memorial Day and in part our honor of SGT Ed Mitchell. Gen. Logan said it is for:

“preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress ……… rebellion.”

General Logan also proclaimed that we should guard their graves with sacred vigilance.

In 1915, after presiding over the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier, Lt Col John McCrae wrote the following poem about the American Cemetery in Flanders Fields, Belgium.

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved,
and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Moina Michael was so inspired by the poem that in 1918 she replied with her own poem entitled We Shall Keep The Faith. These four lines pointently supplement the ideals above, as well as making a new proclamation on the importance of honoring veterans, family members and even friends.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

(Her entire poem can be read at the end of the tribute.)

So today we are here to honor SGT Ed Mitchell because,

Eddie, as most of us knew him, made a personal sacrifice at a time when duty called and Eddie answered the call just like millions of others have down through history. Like many of us who, during the time in our lives when our freedom is threatened, Eddie set aside his personal goals, his vision for his personal future, to be part of that rampart against tyranny, to serve his country.

It is for us, his family and others who remain, to cherish his memory, to never forget the personal sacrifice, the memories of conflict, agony and pain he kept within after he came back home from Vietnam to carry on with his vision and goals for his life, and that of his family.

In a few moments the customary three volleys will be fired, followed by the playing of Taps.

This practice of firing three volleys over a grave originated in the old custom of halting the fighting to remove the dead from the battlefield. Once each side had finished retrieving their dead, they would fire three volleys to indicate that they were ready to go return to the fight.

The fight for us is our eternal quest for Liberty as directed in the Holy Scriptures and, as it says in the Declaration of Arbroath, the Declaration of Independence of Scotland that was used as a template for America’s Declaration of Independence,

”For we fight not for honors, nor glory, nor riches, but for Liberty and that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

Taps became the more solemn manner of returning to the fight. As it is played think about these, some of the unofficial words for Taps.

Words to Taps

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
‘Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.

We miss you Eddie and are honored to have known you during your time on this earth.


We Shall Keep the Faith

by Moina Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.


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