DA Global Veterans & Military Families Caucus Leadership:
Vol. 1, No. 5
Greetings from the Co-Editor
We have been hard at work these last several months building a newsletter for our community: veterans, service members, military families, and allies. A whirlwind of news and legislation has impacted our community so far this year. Between COVID vaccinations for veterans and military families, burn pit and toxic exposure legislation, veteran deportation legislation, and more, we have been very busy. That is why we created a new section of our newsletter: “How We Are Fighting for Veterans and Military Families.” We want to tell you all about what we’re working on, and we want you to continue to tell us what you want. We receive emails every month from our readers about VMF issues. You can write us at our newsletter email address [email protected].
Please continue to tell us what you want to see, what you’ve enjoyed or would like to see change about our newsletter, and keep bringing new issues to us so we can continue to advocate for our community. We have had amazing results so far from our analytics team. Almost 40% of our members are reading the newsletter! We want to continue improving this publication for those who read it now and those who may read it in the future. Our next goal is to better integrate our newsletter with the Democrats Abroad website where we can create more detailed versions of particular sections of our newsletter. For instance, we intend to move much of the legislation we are tracking onto the website. We understand that these bills moving through Congress are important, but we also realize that two pages of legislation in the newsletter may be too much.
Remember, this newsletter is for you. Contact us any time you have VMF concerns that you believe we should address and never hesitate to ask us questions about voting, registering to vote, utilizing the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), or Vote From Abroad!
Anthony “Mike” Nitz, Navy Veteran
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MARGRATEN ON MEMORIAL DAY AND EVERY DAY
By Roberta Enschede, DA The Netherlands
“If ever proof were needed that we fought for a cause and not for conquest,
it could be found in these cemeteries. Here was our only conquest:
all we asked ....was enough.....soil in which to bury our gallant dead.”
Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark
Sadly, this year like last, there can be no public ceremony at Margraten on Memorial Day. The thousands of people - grandparents, parents, children, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, veterans who come year after year will not be there to put a flower or a bouquet on the grave of “their soldier” or a handful of pebbles on a white marble Star of David.
Yet, even though they can’t be there, their memories and thoughts, like mine, will be in the rolling land of Limburg where we “buried our gallant dead.” Perhaps they’ll tell friends a story about “their soldier,” the young hero the family adopted. Perhaps they’ll say a prayer or look at a book of old photos. Maybe they’ll think about how they felt when they had the privilege to lay a wreath during the Memorial Day Ceremony. Maybe they’ll remember when they were Scouts and walked around and placed a Dutch and American flag in front of each grave.
The more you go to Margraten, the more meaningful it becomes. When I’m there, I always stop at the grave of Robert van Klinken. He was a young soldier whose parents were Dutch immigrants and who died in the land of their birth. I visit the grave of Willie James, an African-American soldier who posthumously was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama. I walk over to the grave of Major General Maurice Rose, the highest ranking soldier buried in Margraten and the most decorated.
Before I leave, I find some of the graves of the Timberwolves - the 104th Infantry. I was fortunate enough to get to know some of their comrades who made it out of the war and made a point of returning to Margraten for as long as they were able to travel. My Timberwolf friends are all gone now - those funny, feisty, smart, wise, courageous men. I could always feel how they cared for each other. Sometimes, they acted like teenagers who won a ballgame, slapping and laughing. Sometimes, I could feel their sadness and I knew they were asking themselves: why was I lucky? Why is he here and not me? One fellow, a jeweler from LA, would say, “Margraten, that’s my church.” Another tall lanky gentleman, an architect from Kansas, would amble over to the graves of his comrades and come back with tears filling his eyes. He’d tell his soldier buddies, “I said hello.”
I would stand to the side and just watch and listen. They were in a world only another soldier could understand.
The ancient words of Pericles are carved in the white marble of Margraten. They are especially fitting this year when we are only able to be there in our thoughts and memories.