The unofficial start of summer has historically been Memorial Day Weekend for as long as I can remember. It has always been a time to shake off the doldrums of winter and prepare for the excitement of a summer season, full of family gatherings, baseball, the beach, and if we were lucky, an ice cream cone or two.
I grew up during a much simpler time as a youngster and the idea of a “sickness” that could hobble the greatest nation known to mankind was not something that we could have ever envisioned, but we have had a front–row seat to just such an event.
Many of us have had great friends that have been affected by this invisible enemy that has struck not only our nation, but all nations across the globe. Many of our friends and neighbors have been severely impacted by the by-products of this crisis. Businesses are reeling under the pressures of shutdowns and stay at home orders.
Unemployment rolls have risen to historic highs and the clamor to end the shutdowns are reaching a fevered pitch. Governmental bodies wrestle with no-win scenarios on a daily basis, while trying to keep their constituents safe from themselves and poor choices at times.
The temptation to take advantage of the situation by politicians crafting “pork–laden” legislation disguised as stimulus plans to kick-start the economy can be seen by the most untrained observers.
Those attempts to “bailout” poorly run states such as Illinois, California, New York and others is an outright sham, at the expense of hard-working taxpayers around the nation and here in Collier County.
It is disgusting to me, that these bottom-feeders could exist here in our nation in the 21st century, however, the reality of the situation does exist, and we must be vigilant and stand on principle and reject this overreach.
I am equally as sad as I write this piece this evening, knowing a national tradition of paying our respects to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice in defending our liberties was required to be deferred out of caution due to the virus.
Make no mistake, I am not being critical of that decision, instead I am just sad that those men and women will not be paid the respects they so much deserve. There seems to be more disappointment in the proposed reduced availability of beach time than the decision to cancel a salute to our fallen heroes.
I think of two young men today specifically that were taken from us all too soon as they fell in battle under the flag of our nation.
Thomas John Saltmarsh, the middle son of Edward and Marion Saltmarsh of Concord, New Hampshire and his wife Jill. At the age of 19 he died in a remote valley in Vietnam on March 14, 1968, one of 2063 from the State of New Hampshire. He is one of those wonderful sons of this grateful nation that we would have stood and honored on May 25, 2020, 52 years after his death in service to his nation. Thomas was a member of my family, the son of my mother’s sister and brother of Edward and James Saltmarsh, all of whom continue to mourn his loss. Sadly, he would have never met his son, born after his deployment, Thomas Jr., lives with that void of a father he never knew and only the stories friends had told.
Another young New Hampshire man also laid down his life for his country 16 years to the day, on May 25, 2006, 38 years after PFC Thomas Saltmarsh. This time it was Captain Douglas A. DiCenzo, a graduate of Plymouth High School in 1995 and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1999. He was the son of Cathy Crane and Larry DiCenzo and was 30 years old. Captain DiCenzo was married to his wife Nichole and had a 16-month-old son Dakin. He was also survived by his brother Daniel and by his stepmother Ann DiCenzo. This year must have been especially hard, as Memorial Day fell on the anniversary of the day that a roadside bomb took DiCenzo’s life, as well as the life of a son, brother, husband and father. In a way, Doug DiCenzo is like family to me, as his father Larry is a fraternity brother and great friend, and my heart breaks for him and his family.
These are but two of the literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of names, men and women, which we gather to show our respects for each year on Memorial Day. Men and women who made the ultimate sacrifices in defense of our liberties and freedoms.
So next time you hear someone say, “Have a Happy Memorial Day,” remember the loss being felt by so many. Their lives, their pain and the void in their hearts never goes away. So be respectful of that.