SixContest Winners! Our top 6 “firsts” in six words
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Top Six Backstories on Memorial Day

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This week’s SixContest #26: Memorial Day Messages in Six Words gave way to many amazing backstories. They are so inspiring; we knew these backstories deserved a spotlight of their own. Here are our Top Six favorites:

6. “A wonderful WAC. A wonderful woman.” –Redx3 
Backstory: Grandma Betty was a women’s army corp sergeant and stood at 4′ 11″ tall. She served her country with pride, raised two boys, volunteered countless hours at the VA hospital in her retirement and lived independently in a three story Brooklyn walk up until she left us. The last time we had seen her around Memorial Day we had made her up a plaque with an original clipping about the WAC and her Army photo. 

5. “Arlington: Lillian Aubert, Spanish-American War.”  –Hells_Kitchen_baby
Backstory: I went to Arlington to look for the gravestone of my great aunt. I had heard stories as a child that she served as a nurse in France during WWI because she could speak French (born in southern Louisiana). I was surprised to see on her grave, not WWI, but the Spanish-American War. She was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal posthumously, dying in 1918 of the Spanish flu. I can’t imagine the hard times she went through, being a woman in the army at that time. She never got to vote.

4. “Six word memorial: ‘Got Your Six.” –zsuzsa
Backstory: A young soldier once told me that “got your six’ means “got your back.” So, like a clock, one can see above (12 noon), and to the left and right (3 and 9 o’clock), but not one’s back, which is 6 o’clock.

3. “Never take my freedom for granted”. –Solstice22
Backstory: I am grateful always for the men and women who serve in our military. A few years ago, in 2010, there was a political cartoon for Memorial Day that really expressed my feelings and touched my heart. It was by R.J. Matson, who was at that time the Editorial cartoonist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Roll Call. His cartoons are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. It had an ink bottle labeled “Free Speech” and a pen, next to a sword leaning against a marker and flags. The marker said “Fallen Heroes” The caption read, “The pen is mighty grateful to the sword.”

2. “Medals won for memories wished forgotten.” – G_Austin
Backstory: I was very fortunate. I never served in wartime. My service time ended as the first conflict in the Middle East began in 1989. Many of my friends were called back to active service with the 10th Mountain Division. I was given the blessing of getting on with my life. From time to time my wife and my children happen upon my box of military service and around this time of year they ask me to place the medals won during my service on display. They are proud to learn that I had done something that earned such honor and want to know just how I came upon them. They want to hear the stories behind them so they can share it with others. I quietly ask that they place them back in the box and return them to the attic.

This was again the question posed to me when we watched Kyle White receive the Medal of Honor this past week. I have nothing for respect for this young man and the many others who receive the awards placed upon them. I was quiet as the president placed the ribbon around his neck. The look on the young man’s face said plenty to me. It seemed lost on my wife and kids as they commented on how proud he must be. I commented that he also wears a bracelet with the names of six friends that did not live to see this day. The next day I read the CNN account of the day and Kyle Whites words after he received the Nation’s highest military honor…White insisted the two emblems are equally significant, both the bracelet and the Medal of Honor. They both represent his family on that day six years ago — the seven others who, like him, survived as well as those who did not. The former Army sergeant said Tuesday he owes it to these men, whom he calls “my heroes,” to live his life well, even now that he’s left the military, and with honor. “Though I am still uncomfortable with hearing my name and the word ‘hero’ in the same sentence, I am now ready for the challenge of proudly wearing this piece of blue fabric and carved metal with the same reverence that I wear the bracelet. And I vow to live up to the responsibility of doing so,” White said.
There is no escaping such public honors.
My medals were not earned in such a way as his but they are the results of actions I wish I had never had to take. I remember the events vividly. I recall the names of the persons I tried to help and the name of a grandson left behind. When told I was being honored, I asked that it not be done. I did not want the medal. I wanted to forget. My superiors said it was needed to remind others of my actions and service. America, I was told, needed to honor me. So on a cold day in Upstate New York, it was pinned on me while a commentary of my actions was read to a gathered crowd. I cannot recall anything said. When the ceremony was over my fellow soldiers were patting me on the back, shaking my hand, and smiling. All I could think of was how to get back to my room so I could take it off and place it gently away. I wish to keep it there for me to remember them, quietly and in my own way honor them, those who were not as fortunate as I was. Some of these medals given carry memories we wish forgotten. I can see it on the faces of those who receive them.

1. “Nature covers what time has forgotten.” –notyouraveragegirl
Backstory: Every Memorial Day we visit the graves of those loved one who had passed before us. I bring a basket of gardening tools to uncover the stones overgrown with weeds and grass. I have never met any of these loved ones as they all predeceased me: grandfather, grandmother, uncle and great aunt. My father has now joined them. If I were no longer here, who would remember them?

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