Tag Archives: Memorial Day

Liam and Theo, Companions in Life, Companions Forever.

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Excerpts from “No one was saved.” Memorial Day, 2016.

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Liam and Theo, companions in life, companions forever.

This  is a story of colleagues… and friendship.

It is a story of love and of a bond that transcends death itself.

It is a story which, such being the way of good stories, takes you, by the
powerful chords of memory, from this story…. to your story, for you, I know,
have such a story, too, though  it may not have tugged at your heart for a long
while.

This is the story, then, of Liam and Theo, and you’ll be glad to know it.

Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was a dog handler with the British Royal Army
Veterinary Corps.

Theo was his dog.

They were well known in Afghanistan, together day and night.  People in
Afghanistan, who have so little to smile about, could not help but smile
when Theo, irrepressible, running ahead, playing hide and seek was around.
Theo made them happy, in the ways that dogs have long since perfected.
They liked him… after all he was risking his life every day for them… and they
appreciated that.

The people appreciated Liam Tasker, too. Just 26, a Scotsman, and proud
of it, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, Liam was someone who didn’t have to go to
Afghanistan. However, he had two loves… soldiering and dogs. In the army he
got both; if Afghanistan was the destination, so be it.

Their partnership.

Liam and Theo had one of the most dangerous jobs of all… searching for
explosives, the instruments of disfigurement and death with which Afghanistan
is littered, and from which the people will suffer for years to come, so numerous
are they and so lethal.

It was Liam and Theo’s job to find these explosives and render them, instruments
of sudden death and mayhem, harmless. It was serious, demanding work, and they
did it well. Theo, in fact, was something of a star; he had already drawn praise from
Ministry of Defense officials for detecting 14 hidden bombs and weapons caches in
just five months on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. Theo’s success meant this
22-month-old Springer spaniel got the privilege of staying in dangerous Afghanistan
another month.

But the bond between Theo and Liam went far beyond their professional
association. As was obvious to all, they liked each other.  It’s the kind of thing
even the least perceptive can see. They were buddies… pals… always the best
of friends. And, being young, with energy to spare, they were not above mischief
and hijinks, showing off for each other, egging the other on. Thus, they passed
their time in perilous Afghanistan, saving lives, enjoying each other’s company.

March 1, 2011

This began as a day like all days in the dangerous war zone that passes for
brutalized Afghanistan… but in short order it became a day like no other , for
both Liam and Theo.

L/Cpl Tasker suffered fatal injuries in a fight with the Taliban in Helmand Province
while he and Theo were searching for explosives.

Immediately, Theo knew something was very, very wrong. Liam was lying in
the dust of Afghanistan, dead… Theo, hysterical, was taken back to Camp
Bastion, the main British military base. There he could not be comforted.

Just three hours later, Theo, confused, agitated, alone, his friend Liam gone,
died of a fatal seizure brought on by stress.

Now it was Liam who had gone before, while Theo rushed to catch up, death
together infinitely preferable to life alone.

This story touched the heart of a great nation, for the British are a by word for
loving animals of every kind. They each had their special thought that day…
for Liam and Theo, of course, but also for the pet they had loved, who had most
certainly loved them, too.

Liam and Theo come home…

On March 10, 2011, hundreds of mourners lined the main street through the Wiltshire
town of Wootton Bassett. Liam and Theo were coming home, and everyday people
had come, with their dogs and other pets, to say good-bye.

A dozen police and Prison Service dogs made their official appearance, too. The
crowd was silent… but the barking of dogs could be heard in the background as
a solemn bell rang out to mark the arrival of the cortege; perhaps they knew and
understood what was happening…

Liam Tasker’s family was there, too, and they, in their profound grief, took solace
from the fact that now, forever, Liam and Theo would be together; such was the
loyalty of dog to man… and of that man to his dog. L/Cpl Tasker’s father Ian told
ITV news: “my honest opinion on this is, when Liam went down, that Theo didn’t
have the comfort from Liam to calm him down.”

Liam’s mother, Jane Duffy, simply said, “I would like to believe Theo died of a
broken heart to be with Liam.” I believe it, too.

358 members of the British Armed Forces have now died in Afghanistan.
6 British military dogs have also died since 2001.

Today in Afghanistan the unending war goes on. Valiant men and women and
dogs in the Dog Training Group will do their jobs and do them well. Some of
these will die. Let us hope they find in each other the support and bond now
eternally epitomized by Liam Tasker and his dog Theo. Now together, they
will remain together for all the cycles to come, glad of each other and young.

May they rest in peace.

Musical note

I have selected for this musical note the music from the 2005 movie “Lassie” by
composer Adrian Johnston. It is at once poignant and elegiac, perfect for this
unlikely love affair, so touching, and so profound.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNex-b6Q1lQ

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

More can be found on Dr. Lant on his author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

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Excerpts from “No one was saved.” Memorial Day, 2016.

Proudly presented from the www.writerssecrets.com Book Series

Excerpts from “No one was saved.” Memorial Day, 2016. by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Available on Amazon at: http://amzn.to/2rvixKP

Introduction

This day, Memorial Day, can be summarized in just a few words: liberty,freedom, self-determination, to enjoy the fruits of one’s labors, to praise God, each in his own way, and work together. It is a day for acute remembrance and to remind ourselves of fundamental truths we have
neglected and forgotten. It is a day when we recall how much has been done for each and every one of us, by the sacrifices of so many, and for
the great world beyond.

But today, I feel like Father McKenzie, in the Beatles famous song, “Eleanor
Rigby” (1966). The lines read as follow:

“Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands
as he walks from the grave, no one was saved.”

We live in a time when the community that was and should always be
America and its Great Republic is unraveling before our very eyes. We
look at the institutions of our government, and we see their increasing
flaws, and imperfections. We see our leaders diminished daily, by their
picayune concerns and language obscene, divisive, focusing on minute
political gain, instead of the great interests of our much diminished
America.

Nations and peoples which once craved the American dream, now carp
at every aspect of our national affairs, and international mission. We are
dismissed, we are demeaned, we are insulted, and we are perplexed by
the contumely. Where did we go wrong?

We look in the looking glass, and what do we see? We are old, we are
tired, we have seemingly lost control. Our borders are infiltrated by people
who do not want our ideals, but only our wealth and our services, and who
take what we give; and no one is happy or better off. It is a dismal picture,
and all because a single word has evaporated from our national agenda:
sacrifice.

We all say we will sacrifice to achieve what must be achieved. We all say
we know the need for sacrifice. We all proclaim that we’ll be the example for
our friends and neighbors, but it is just so many words, so many promises
made, so many promises unkept.

Can we go on like this? And if we go on like this, what terrible retribution will
there be for all that we had, and all that we carelessly lost? This is the reality
of Memorial Day, a day for remembering. So let us then remember.

Remember a nation, which saw far, and worked not for momentary gain, but
for long term measures of great consequence and worth. People saved today
to perfect tomorrow. People did their bit because by doing one’s bit, success
was ensured for all. We were not just a great nation, we were a great
community, the leader of an expectant world, where working together was the
preferred state of affairs. And together, we achieved miracles.

The contents of this book will move you. They advance the hard questions,
and review the hard realities. These chapters are not afraid of the harsh and
bitter truth; that we sacrificed far too many men and women in endeavors which,
at their outset, commanded the high rhetoric so obligatory in our wars and
national undertakings, but which in the event made these words an
acrimonious mockery.

They show how often these sacrifices failed, failed miserably, failed
completely… because we have lost our national purpose and vision, and now
detest each other, dismiss each other, disdain each other, and say to
ourselves, that is the way things must be for this America. But that is not so.

Think of this single outrage. I saw a picture in the newspaper some time
ago. It was a Pepsi-Cola sign in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, which my
generation knew as Saigon. We sacrificed some 58,000 men and women
to end up flaunting this beverage, a symbol of the nation. It made
me angry, so terribly angry, to think of all the pain, of all blood that was shed
for nothing, and for naught, to place such a sign so.

As I write today, the world is engrossed for a moment, by the latest hijacked
airplane, captured by terrorists, plunged by their suicidal command
into the depths of the Mediterranean Sea. We arrange our affairs so that
we tolerate murderers, and protect their rights, when their rights reign death
and destruction upon all of us. They care nothing for our rights, nothing for us,
and nothing for our sacrifices.

There is no clarity today. No general agreement… just acrid, futile, gyrations
which allow us no time or energy to recapture what made the nation great,
and what we said upon sending our best and brightest to early deaths. The
greatness of a great nation and its great purposes around the Earth is now
at stake.

We can treat this Memorial Day merely as the unofficial opening of our
summer expeditions, and frolic accordingly, or we can use this day of
history and sad realities to re-instill in ourselves the urgent need for
regeneration and thorough renewal. Will our situation be that of Father
McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear, no one
comes near? Is this truly our destiny?

Are we so far gone, that this is now the best we can expect of ourselves,
or can we still call from deep within our collectivity, the will, the
determination, and the vision we must have, for that is what Memorial Day
should be about. Recognition of the past, and determination for the
future, for destiny is never certain, and may always be influenced for good
or ill by those who are the most determined.

Let this day, then, be about remembrance and rededication, both essential
if we are to rise again as the great nation we have been, the great nation we
must become again, the great nation that America must always be.

God bless America!

Dr. Jeffrey Lant
From the Blue Room
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Of Flanders Fields, Remembrance and Heartfelt Gratitude.

Giving blessed remembrance and heartfelt gratitude, love and devotion to those that gave their lives, so they can live on in our hearts. Remembrance with these heart felt words by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

                 U.S. Memorial Day. Remember!

flanders_field_marker_on_stump

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Let us recall this day and its purpose first by reminding you of one of the most celebrated poems of war, youth too soon ended and of the flower that evokes it all, the blood-red poppy.

In Flanders Field by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, M.D. Canadian Army (1872-1918).

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow Between the crosses row on row, That marks our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.

When I was a boy growing up in Illinois in the late ‘forties and ‘fifties, every school child was expected to take a few paper poppies (made so we knew by wounded and maimed U.S. Vets) and collect some pennies for them from friends and neighbors who never needed to be reminded of what we were doing or why they should contribute, even if it was the widow’s mite. And if it were the widow or mother with a gold star always in the front window, she responded with exultation and alacrity, hugging her student visitor, and tears would soon be shed. While you didn’t comprehend why, you soon found yourself with tears, too — and the adults called you a “good boy” and always looked into your eyes as they said so.

21 in Flanders fields in the midst of war.

I made my first trip to Europe, to the France I was destined to love deeply, not least for her wounds and too frequent miseries; the year was 1967. Vietnam was on the world’s agenda, rending the people and the nations. On this trip I (unlike all my traveling companions who had very different locales on their itinerary) decided to go, taking a bus tour to Flanders fields. I had helped distribute the paper poppies for many years; I knew the famous poem, and I was curious to see what the vestiges of carnage and military butchery looked like.

But I little knew the power of these fields and of the palpable spirit of this place, the spirit that spoke to you, and at once: “Remember, we are your dear departed, your brothers, your fathers, your young boisterous uncles too soon taken; the cheerful postboy and the brilliant medical student. We are here, all of us,in our millions; we wish you to understand the profundity of this place, the purpose of this place, the solemnity of this place… and the gripping tale, certain to impress you, that we tell in our very life’s blood.

This is a place of unsettled ghosts, of too much loss, too much death, too many to remember and an urgent need never to forget a single one.

Then of a sudden the compelling insistence of this hallowed place made itself known to you. Tourists like you, babbling of places where they had found good values and other places where they had not; these tourists now saw the majesty of unending death, too soon, by too many… and their very words stopped… as they saw around them on every side the unmitigated panoply of death…

Our vehicle went slowly through these fields where death had staked its boundless claims, for more limbs, for more blood, for more and still more fragile bodies and of a world of plans, expectations, destinies, ended right here…

You feel all at this tragic place… and are quiet like your fellow travelers; not one saying a single word… the only sound the wheels of your vehicle, now a cortege, and the tears falling fast… while complete strangers take hold of their neighbor’s hand and squeeze; it is all any of us can do… and we all want the warmth of life and seek it now.

What I learned that day, what you must know, is the immensity of these places of eternal rest for a generation. Here and at many similar places this generation abides for the ages, these fields profoundly marked with pristine graves and simple headstones, that show the last day of their life, the first day of their oblivion.

You think, you hope that the end is nigh, but you cannot say so. You cannot say anything; your vehicle goes slowly, the better for you to understand the awe of this place… and your spirit is sorely troubled and challenged.

And still your vehicle rides through more of the unending graves, each for a life unseasonably, unnaturally ended… and one word rises before you and the other travelers: why? What could have justified so much death and confusion, so much ended too soon, the promise of so many lives, and these so young? Why?

After several hours, your tour is ended… but the graves of Flanders fields are not at an end. They are, at tour’s end, what they were at tour’s beginning: a metropolis of the dead, where the great numbers you see are only a tiny fraction of the unimaginable totality.

And at last, from so much pain, so palpable and pathetic, comes a valiant thought. That the acres of Flanders fields, at least in part, are the story of the greatest gift of all, to die for the good of all, to give your life so that the lives of untold others can be lived fully, happily…. having received from these dead their lives, their prosperities, everything that makes life worth living.

Since the inception of our great republic wars, insurrections, riots, uprisings have punctuated our national existence. And each has yielded a generous quota of good people who died that America and all Americans might live.

The danger, my fellow countrymen, is that any part of us, any one of us should live without blessed remembrance and heartfelt gratitude to the dead… all of them expired in the unending service of the nation, our allies, and the troubled planet we aim to sooth and uplift. Every great cause, every event within these causes has called upon the best among us… and has resulted in the greatest sacrifice of all, for so many.

What the dead of Flanders fields and of all America’s far-flung endeavors want is what only we living can give. And that is our full love and devotion to such as these. We can only be fulfilled by giving it… which is what we do today, and gladly so. It is little enough for the sublime greatness of their gift to us.

* * * * *
About The Author

Harvard-educated, awards winning author, Dr. Jeffrey Lant is a syndicated writer and author of 20 books, best selling books.

Dr. Lant brings the crucial features of his illustrious writing career to www.WritersSecrets.com for others to master writing.

Listen in as Dr. Lant reads his word of remembrance:

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