What this Memorial Day means to me
May 19, 2005
As newly elected to the office of commander of the American Legion, High Desert Post 56 of Carson City, I would like to dedicate this story to all veterans.
My immediate family of eight children, three girls and five boys, making me the youngest, leads me to write this story.
There are two of us remaining. My oldest brother is a World War II war hero who was drafted at age 17 into the U.S. Army and served 33 months in combat in the South Pacific.
He has just celebrated his 81st birthday and is 90 percent disabled, military-related. He is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans. As our oldest brother, he set the stage for his four younger brothers to follow, as we were all members of the United States military.
My three brothers to follow were U.S. Army career veterans. All three served their 20 years plus. They were all three highly decorated war veterans.
They all served in Korea and two tours in Vietnam. After retirement from the military, they served in their respective VFW posts and worked their way through the officers’ positions to become post commanders. They were also active members of the American Legion.
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I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the age of 17, and spent my 18th birthday overseas, also in the Korea era.
Unlike my brothers, I only served eight years, four years active duty and four years in the Air Force Reserve.
As with my brothers, my cause now is veterans serving veterans. I am also a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and at my last post was in line to become the post commander.
My most honorable activity was being a rifleman on an All Veterans Honor Guard, performing military funeral honors. I am a member of the Military Funeral Honors Program, signed by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. I served three years, averaging more than 50 ceremonies per year.
At each ceremony, I was honoring my three brothers who are now deceased from war-related issues, as well as “Honoring Those Who Served.” What an honor!
As the commander of the High Desert American Legion Post 56, I pledge to uphold and to defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
This Memorial Day I will attend several ceremonies honoring those who served. As captain of the American Legion Honor Guard, I am once again very honored.
To read more about Donald Atkins and his role as commander of the American Legion post, see Monday’s edition of the Nevada Appeal.