Sunday, May 24, 2009

North Korea Tests Nuclear Device

Various sources are reporting that the North Korean Government conducted a nuclear test. It is, May 25th in North Korea, which, of course, is Memorial Day in the United States.

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VA Recognizes Military Sacrifices on Memorial Day

Special to American Forces Press Service

May 24, 2009 - From parades to somber ceremonies and a moment of silence, Americans will recall the sacrifices of military members who paid the ultimate price for freedom on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25.

"From May 23 to May 30, commemorative events at VA national cemeteries will present a sacred responsibility for employees and volunteers to honor these greatest of American heroes," Steve Muro, VA's Acting Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs said. "Since the birth of Memorial Day in 1866, national cemeteries have been the most visible expression of our country's gratitude for their service."

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will continue its annual tradition of hosting services at most of its national cemeteries and many other facilities nationwide. The programs, which are the focus of Memorial Day events in many communities, honor the service of deceased Veterans and people who die on active duty.
For the dates and times of Memorial Day programs at VA national cemeteries, visit

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend activities at VA's national cemeteries, with color guards, readings, bands and choir performances. The events will honor about one million men and women who died in wartime periods, including about 655,000 battle deaths.

Some national cemetery observances are unique. At VA's most active cemetery, in Riverside, Calif., volunteers have been reading aloud -- since Armed Forces Day, May 17 -- the names of more than 150,000 veterans buried there, and are expected to continue at least until the Memorial Day program. In one-hour shifts around the clock, 500 volunteers – two to four at a time -- alternate reading the names.

Rolling Thunder Roars Through Nations' Capital

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

May 24, 2009 - Pam Crane sat peacefully in a patch of freshly mowed grass along Highway 27 here in the nation's capital, remembering her husband, his patriotism and his cause. She overlooked a sea of motorcycles and bandana-wearing war veterans gathered today in the Pentagon's north parking lot for the 22nd Annual Rolling Thunder rally. Each and every one of them, she said, share her husband Warren's passion to never let the nation forget that some of their battle buddies and brothers in arms never came home.

"It was his passion," Crane said. "He was the most patriotic man I'd ever met."

Warren was one of the lucky ones to make it home after serving in Vietnam, but after years of struggling with post-traumatic stress, he took his own life on May 20, 2006. The next day his widow joined Rolling Thunder and has made the trip from Knoxville, Tenn., each year since for the Memorial Day weekend ride through the nation's capitol.

The event kicked off at noon today with riders filing out of the Pentagon parking lot in pairs in a parade that led them from the Lincoln Memorial, past the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Wall, to the U.S. Capitol building and back.

"It's such a wonderful, overwhelming experience to be here and to see the flags and patriotism and all these veterans together," Crane said. "We're doing everything we can to make sure the public doesn't forget our POWs and MIAs and certainly to take care of our veterans from all the different wars that are still here."

"It's such a moving event to see so many veterans gathered together, and everyone is here to honor our fallen comrades and soldiers serving now," added Army Sgt. 1st Class (ret.) Frank Lesnefsky, from Scranton, Penn., who's participating in his fifth Rolling Thunder rally.

Rolling Thunder, Inc., is a non-profit organization with more than 88 chapters in all 50 states, which work year round to ensure the nation never forgets that American prisoners of war and missing in action still remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. The organization raises funds to help veterans and serves as legislative advocates on veterans' issues. Members volunteer to visit local veterans hospitals and educate people about the POW/MIA issue.

Crane said Rolling Thunder's hard work over the years is evident, as they've impacted citizens from all across the country to join and take part in advocating their cause. Bikers, such as Danny Kang, from Richmond, Va., participated in Rolling Thunder for the past two years, but unlike many of the others, he's not a veteran and doesn't come from a military family, he said.

An American pilot in the Korean War saved his grandfather, Kang said. And if it weren't for servicemembers like that pilot, who risked his own life to protect Kang's grandfather and other South Korean nationals, the world might be a lesser place, he added.

"I'm here to pay my respect and show my appreciation for all those troops who never came back," Kang said. "It's hard to imagine that troops from past wars are still not accounted for."

Dale Recker, a Vietnam War veteran from Beaver Creek, Minn., participated in his sixth Rolling Thunder today, and said it's an event he looks forward to every year. He's a founding father of the Rolling Thunder Chapter 1 in South Dakota, he said.

Recker said he will be here in Washington for Rolling Thunder every year until he's physically unable. His cousin's name is engraved on the Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial Wall, and Recker wants to ensure his cousin and others like him will always be remembered for their sacrifice.

"We don't want anyone to ever forget, and we don't want the servicemembers coming back today to be forgotten either," Recker said. "We want all our troops home, and we won't rest until every last POW and MIA is accounted for."