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Memorial Day, A Reflection on Honor, Sacrifice, and Duty

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Sometimes, I wonder if the sacrifices of our soldiers are forgotten because of time, the remoteness of many wars, and the volunteer status of our armed forces.  Memorial Day is a national holiday and a time for remembrance of those who gave their lives in order to preserve our freedoms.

The poem below was written by one of our alums, Joe DeCree.  As a veteran, Joe shares with us his remembrances of war, his fallen comrades, and Memorial Day.

 MEMORIAL DAY

The rain drips off the peak of my cap;

Speckles my vision.

The marching band plays in G Major but I hear only minor chords.

Old Glory passes by and I make the automatic but heartfelt salute.

I attend the ball games and barbeques

But I am not really there.

I want to leave so as not to bring down the party.

I am remembering. Remembering and feeling.

As I visit flag-adorned graves, I drift to other days.

The older I get, the more keenly I feel the sting that is Memorial Day.

The parade of faces and names begins again: Ox, Moge, Vaughn, Chief, and the rest.

All good men. All gone. All cut down violently.

Civilians cannot understand.

I go off by myself. In my mind, we prep for another patrol.

We kit up. We check comms. We return to that lethal headspace that our families suspect but don’t know.

I get the thumbs up from the team and we walk the walk again.

The enemy tries to surprise but we are too fast, too practiced.

Rifle fire, butt stroke, knife blades flashing, lethal hand strikes. We play that symphony again.

We sweep through.

I check my men. Ox, Moge, Vaughn, Chief. We are all here. They are fine.

Consolidate, prepare to repell, call it in. We are victorious because the only real victory is living through it with your brothers. Else is failure.

Politicians and civilians think otherwise.

Lord, Forgive them their ignorance. We die that they may keep it.

Academics pose irrelevant questions about the good men on the other side. They too have family.

I care not a whit. I neither mourn their losses nor revel in their death. Their death that is my fault.

What do academics know of death, life, and brotherhood? Such things are not in books. They are in gunfire.

I see my brothers thru the smokey veil now.  I try to walk through but cannot.

They go back to their patrol base and disappear into the rain as Old Glory passes by.

I smile the grim and sardonic smile of every grunt.

I have been left behind again. They go forward.

I will see them again next year.

Taps sounds. I am asked if I want another hot dog and which game I want to watch.

The meat is tasteless. I mechanically watch the game. The centerfielder is good.

Chief liked baseball, I recall.

Memorial Day-thank God it only comes once a year.

Major Joe DeCree retired from the U.S. Army after 21 years.  He was an 18A Special Forces officer, and also served in the Infantry and Intelligence. He served in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and in Iraq as a contract security operative for the US consulate in Basra. Following his retirement, he taught Army ROTC for 5 years and now teaches leadership at various institutions in Western Montana. His most recent degree is a Masters in Homeland Security from American Military University.

 

 

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In July 2016, he retired as APUS president and continued as CEO of APEI. In September 2017, he was reappointed APUS president after the resignation of Dr. Karan Powell. In September 2019, Angela Selden was named CEO of APEI, succeeding Dr. Boston who will remain APUS president until his planned retirement in June 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. During his tenure, APUS grew to over 100,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 90,000 alumni. In addition to his service as a board member of APUS and APEI, Dr. Boston is a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, a board member of the Presidents’ Forum, and a board member of Hondros College of Nursing and Fidelis, Inc. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. Dr. Boston lives in Owings Mills, MD with his wife Sharon and their two daughters.

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