Reflections on sacrifice | NevadaAppeal.com

Reflections on sacrifice

Millions of Americans remembered fallen servicemen and women on Monday at cemeteries across the nation.

Flags flew at half-mast to honor those who either died in combat or passed away after serving their country.

The first observance of remembering the war dead occurred on May 30, 1868.

Almost a half-million soldiers died as a result of the American Civil War that raged from April 1861 to April 1865. Three years later, the Grand Army of the Republic established Decoration Day in order to give family and friends a time to mourn the deceased and to decorate their graves with flowers.

The day eventually extended to remembering loved ones and friends.

While many Americans respect the message of Memorial Day, others forget the true meaning.

We Americans have a strange way of honoring our departed, even national commentators seem to be clueless. Case in point, radio talk show host and CNN weekend commentator Michael Smerconish, as far as I am concerned, embarrassed himself by wishing veterans a “Happy Memorial Day” as he signed off his Saturday Cable TV news program.

There is nothing “happy” about Memorial Day. It is a day for reflection in honoring the men and women who served during war or peacetime, many of them paying the ultimate sacrifice.

With the war in Iraq officially over and operations in Afghanistan winding down, many Nevadans served overseas in two foreign countries.

Fallon and Fernley were not immune from horror of war. These names are listed on numerous websites recalling the untimely deaths of these warriors:

Army Spec. Jason Disney died Feb. 13, 2002, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. From his days at Churchill County High School to those spent in the U.S. Army’s 7th Transportation Battalion,

Disney’s friends and former instructors said the 20-year-old had changed his life around to become a better person, a devoted father.

In tribute to Disney, the main street at BAF is named after Disney.

Although he grew up in New Mexico, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christian P. Humphreys considered Fallon home. He flew with the Longhorns Search and Rescue at Naval Air Station Fallon for two years before joining the Army to become a helicopter pilot.

He died in November 2008 when his helicopter crashed while on a mission over Mosul, Iraq.

Nevada Army Guard Sgt. Patrick Stewart of Fernley died on Sept. 25, 2005, with five others when insurgents shot down their CH-47 “Chinook” helicopter in Afghanistan. He had also served in Desert Storm and in the Republic of Korea.

Army PFC Alejandro Varela died May 7, 2007, in Iraq. The 19-year-old Fernley native, according to one website, was helping search for three missing comrades in hostile territory.

On Sept. 8, 2009, PFC Thomas Lyon was killed when his truck was bombed in Iraq. The 20-year-old Lyon grew up in Fernley and Carson City before he joined the Army.

Army PFC Kevin Thomson, who grew up in Fernley and Reno, died in Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2009, as a result of an enemy ambush at Army Combat Post Keating.

The Battle of Kamdesh occurred when a force of 300 Taliban assaulted COP Keating near the town of Kamdesh of Nuristan province in eastern Afghanistan. Eight soldiers died and 27 others suffered injuries.

Army Sgt. Timothy Douglas Sayne of Fernley died of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with a roadside bomb in Shah Wali Kot, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, on Sept. 18, 2011.

The 30-year-old soldier was assigned to 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Steve Ranson, who spent 28 years in the military before retiring five years ago, is editor of the LVN.