Military Tribute Essays

Thank you to all who participated in The Saturday Evening Post’s Tribute to Our Troops essay contest.

The Saturday Evening Post, for nearly 300 years, has been proud to showcase the American way, and through this contest we honor soldiers past and present who risk their lives every day for our country,” says Steven Slon, editorial director and associate publisher. “We are very excited to present the inspiring tributes from our readers.”

Each of the winners will receive a watch courtesy of our co-sponsor Speidel.

“Speidel is very proud to have been a part of The Saturday Evening Post Tribute to Our Troops essay contest, and we offer our heartfelt thanks and congratulations to each of the winners,” said Lynn-Marie Cerce, co-owner of Speidel. “We would also like to thank all of our loyal customers—many of them Saturday Evening Post readers—who help us provide critically-needed financial support and services to members of the military and their families through our Change A Band, Change A Life™ charitable giving program.”

As part of the program Speidel is donating a portion of all sales proceeds, including purchases made online at speidel.com to Operation Homefront.

The following essays are the top 20 entries selected by the Post editors:


Honor Thy Brother
By Elizabeth Heaney

Walking through the battalion offices, I see a big, broad-shouldered staff sergeant intently focused on a dark blue uniform lying on his desktop. As I watch from the doorway, he leans over and places a narrow silver pin on the uniform’s chest. Before attaching the pin, he checks its placement in all four directions with a measuring device that calculates tiny, perfect millimeters.

After securing the pin, he checks each brass button down the front of the uniform in those same precise millimeters.

He’s wearing delicately thin white gloves on his huge hands, and touches the uniform gently, reverently. I’d seen soldiers prepare their dress uniforms to go up for promotion; this was different.

“Looks nice—you up for promotion?” I say from the doorway.

“No, ma’am. I’m escorting Tompkins’ body back to Iowa.”

Silence stretches between us.

“I’m so sorry you have to do that.” Then I add, “And I’m very grateful you will.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, ma’am. He was my soldier.”

Always a Hero
By Anne Linja

Navy Master Chief David Charles Linja—my husband, my hero—was holding my hand as we headed towards his retirement ceremony. There were many emotions and thoughts going through my mind. The most prevalent was “He’s coming home to us, our family. The U.S. may have had his heart, soul, and body for 30 years—and thankfully he stayed safe throughout all those years—but now he’ll be husband, dad, brother, son.”

As we stepped into the elevator, a fellow squid said, “Good morning, Master Chief!”

I responded, “He’s retiring today. It’s his last day.”

The sailor looked at me and respectfully said, “No, ma’am. He’ll always be a master chief.”

My husband suddenly had the biggest grin on his face, full of pride, knowing that he spent the last 30 years doing exactly what he was supposed to do.


Job Well Done
By Kathy Manier

While growing up in Orange County, I was always taught to thank our military for their service but never really had a full grasp of why I was thanking them—except for the obvious reason, fighting for my freedom.

Within the last couple years, I’ve personally come to know many service members, and their stories are humbling to say the least. To them, they are not heroes nor see any need to be thanked. They go to work every day like the rest of us—to do their job as best as they know how—except they don’t always get to come home at the end of the day.

They leave their families for months on end, work through holidays, and take the weight of the world’s problems on their shoulders. They sacrifice their safety, getting shot at, but for them it’s just another day at the office.

So for all the tears before each deployment, the PTSD that becomes the norm, the loved ones that are lost, the weeks of training in the middle of nowhere with no shower or bed, and the endless sacrifices they make on a daily basis, I thank them for their service, for just doing what they consider their “job.”

In the Steps of Our Ancestors
By Debbi Nelson

As a female child born into a lineage of proud males, I was raised on stories of ancestors who fought and died in the great conflicts—dating back to the American Revolution—of these United States. Images of draft cards and photos and the family stories still hold places of honor in my mind. As a youth, I could recite the stories, but, as an adult, I can feel them.

These were gutsy, in-your-face characters that hid their fears and left their families to benefit something bigger than themselves. Some never returned to their mothers or children. Some carried the horrors of war with them for the rest of their lives. But all of them watched with real pride each time the wind was slapped back by the Stars and Stripes. Their lives, and the lives of their comrades, were gifts that will never be forgotten.

Today, in big cities and small towns across this country, the tradition continues. I see young men and women putting their lives on hold in order to put on uniforms. The transportation and technology are different, but the American soldier is still the same, unafraid to defend. May God bless their every step!


No Thank You Required
By Greg Woodburn

After enjoying a wonderful meal on vacation with our two then-young children, we waited for our check.

Ten minutes became 30.

And we finally left without paying, but let me explain: Two businessmen across the room paid our bill, but requested we not be told until after they left. They saw a happy family, the waiter now explained, and simply wanted to do something kind with no thank you required.

Fourteen years passed, and then, last summer when I was leaving a local steak house, a U.S. soldier dressed in camouflage walked in.

“Hi,” I said. ”I want to thank you for all you do.”

“I appreciate that very much, sir,” the authentic American hero humbly replied while shaking my hand.

I wanted to say more, something less trite, but the table for two was ready and the hostess led the strapping soldier and his happy mother away.

I hope they ordered appetizers, wine to celebrate his homecoming, prime rib, plus dessert. And afterwards, I hope they had to wait a good long while, enjoying each other’s company and some laughs—even as they grew a bit impatient wondering where in the world their waiter was with the check.

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"... there are some who keep up a tradition of pride in service to the United States of America and remember all those who had fallen .... Let none of us ever forget what Memorial Day really is." --Kathlena Peebles, May 1996


| Speeches / Essays | | Poetry / Prayers/ Lyrics |


  • Address of Senator Foraker at Arlington, Memorial Day, May 30, 1905.
    [memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/murray:@field(FLD001+91898248+):@@@$REF$]
  • CNN - Memorial Day Articles - 25 May 1998
    [www.cnn.com/US/9805/25/memorial.day.wrap/]
  • General Logan's General Order 11
    [www.usmemorialday.org/order11.html]
  • Growing up in the wake of World War II
    Childhood recollection by Professor Benoit Roisin [�, 2000]
    [www.usmemorialday.org/roisin.htm]
  • How to Observe Memorial Day
    Includes an elegantly written email by Sylvia Mohr
    [www.usmemorialday.org/observe.htm]
  • Human Life International: On Memorial Day, We Should Honor Our Fallen Heroes and What They Died For...
    PR Newswire, 26 May 2000
    [www.usmemorialday.org/prnewswire.htm]
  • In Memorium (PDF file)
    © 2006 Lilian Leader
    [www.usmemorialday.org/InMemorium.pdf]
  • May 30 is a has-been holiday with meaning
    A 1997 OakRidger column by Dorothy Senn
    [www.oakridger.com/stories/052997/senn.html]
  • Memorial Day 1999
    Suggested Memorial Day speech from US Army
    [www.usmemorialday.org/Speeches/Other/army1999.htm]
  • Memorial Day Address
    By the American Legion
    [www.legion.org/index.php?section=pub_relations&subsection=pr_speeches&content=pr_speech_memorial]
  • Memorial Day and 135 Years of Memory
    PR Newswire, 25 May 2000
    [www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m4PRN/2000_May_25/62445909/print.jhtml]
  • Memorial Day, A Reflection on Honor, Sacrifice, and Duty (PDF file)
    © 2007 Kelvin Drawdy
    [www.usmemorialday.org/memorialday4.pdf]
  • Memorial Day, Dorset, Vermont
    Commonweal, 18 May 2001
    [www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m1252/10_128/75445701/print.jhtml]
  • Memorial Day Essay
    © 2001 Ali M., 3rd Grader, Academy Elementary School, Madison, Connecticut.
    [www.usmemorialday.org/alim.htm]
  • Memorial Day Essay
    By Kathlena Peebles � 1996 - a must read
    [www.usmemorialday.org/essay.html]
  • Memorial Day in 2005 landing on the May 30th of 2005
    article which I submitted on a WOWZONE.com open forum website by Phoebe Moses � 2005
    [www.usmemorialday.org/wow2005.htm]
  • Memorial Day Service, 1995
    Robinson's Run Cemetery, McDonald, Pennsylvania 28 May 1995
    by Ira Joe Davis, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army
    [www.usmemorialday.org/Speeches/Other/davis1995.htm]
  • Memorial Day Speech 1997
    By Deborah Y. Parker Public Affairs Office, 279th Base Support Battalion, Unit 27535, Bamberg, Germany
    [www.usmemorialday.org/Speeches/Other/parker1997.htm]
  • Memorial Day Speech 2004
    By By Peter W. Schramm, for the Memorial Day services for the city of Ashland, Ohio at the Ashland Cemetery on May 31, 2004
    [www.ashbrook.org/publicat/dialogue/schramm5.html]
  • Memorial Day Speech 2006
    By Gene Bruce, Colonel, U.S. Army (retired)
    May 29, 2006
    Dundee, Michigan

    [www.usmemorialday.org/Speeches/Other/memday2006.htm]
  • A Message From The Pastor
    By Rev. J. Thomas Shelley, STS, Pastor © 1999
    [www.usmemorialday.org/Speeches/Other/shelley1999.htm]
  • The Oath of the Soldier -A Memorial Day Observance Speech
    By Johnny Q. Gogue III
    [www.usmemorialday.org/Speeches/Other/oath.htm]
  • Observations on Memorial Day, 1996
    By Jesse Brown, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
    [www.usmemorialday.org/Speeches/Other/memday1996.htm]
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes' Famous 1884 Memorial Day Speech
    [www.people.virginia.edu/~mmd5f/memintro.htm]
  • President's Remarks
    [www.usmemorialday.org/remarks.html]
  • A Tribute To Memorial Day 2004
    Delivered by Joseph Raisner, Camp Hill High School Senior 2004
    [www.usmemorialday.org/Speeches/Other/tribute2004.htm]
  • VFW Memorial Day 2004 Speech
    [www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.levelc&cid=1896&tok=1]
  • VFW Pays Tribute...Memorial Day, May 27, 2002
    The meaning of Memorial Day
    [www.usmemorialday.org/Speeches/Other/vfw2002.htm]
  • With My Family on Memorial Day
    By Wes Hempel, Northridge Review, Vol. 4.1 [1986]
    [www.csun.edu/~hceng029/thebest/hempelwithmyfamily.htm]

  • A Daughters Tribute to her POW Dad
    [nationalalliance.org/korea/justus.htm]
  • Another Memorial Day.
    © Sam L. Carter 05/29/2005
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/samcater.htm]
  • Arlington
    © 1990 by Marian H. Neudel
    [www.usmemorialday.org/arlington.htm]
  • The Bivouac Of The Dead.
    By Theodore O'Hara, 1847
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/ohara.html]
  • The Blood.
    © 2006 by Kym Brown, Pastor of Mosaic Mobile in Mobile, AL
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/theblood.htm]
  • The Blue and The Gray
    By Unknown Author
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/ohara.html]
  • The Blue and The Gray
    By Francis Miles Finch
    [www.pa-roots.org/~memorialday/bg1.html]
  • County Fair
    Author Unknown
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/cfair.html]
  • Dirge For Two Veterans
    By Walt Whitman
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/dirge.htm]
  • Forget Me Not
    � 2001 Bill Chance[www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/forgetnot.htm]
  • For Our Troops.
    © 2007 Brooke O'Neill Emery
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/4ourtroops.htm]
  • Freedom
    By Roger W Hancock
    � 2002 Roger W Hancock (www.PoetPatriot.com)

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/freedom.htm]
  • Freedom's Colors
    By Roger W Hancock
    � 2002 Roger W Hancock (www.PoetPatriot.com)

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/freedomscolors.htm]
  • God Bless Our Military Mothers
    Poems dedicated to the military mothers
    � 2004 Roger J. Robicheau (Sp 5, US Army), The Poetic Plumber
    [ http://sites.google.com/site/veteranpoetroger/home/our-wonderful-military-mothers ]
  • Hands
    By Jeremy Bruno
    � 2003 jbruno0@frostburg.edu

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/hands.htm]
  • The Heroes
    By Roger W Hancock
    � 2002 Roger W Hancock (www.PoetPatriot.com)

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/theheroes.htm]
  • Hero's Price
    By Roger W Hancock
    � 2002 Roger W Hancock (www.PoetPatriot.com)

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/herosprice.htm]
  • Heroes Unaware
    By Mark A. Wright, HMC(SS)
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/unaware.htm]
  • How We Recall
    � 2004 Roger J. Robicheau (Sp 5, US Army), The Poetic Plumber
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/howrecall.htm]
  • I Am A Navy Corpsman
    By Mark A. Wright, HMC(SS)
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/navycorpsman.htm]
  • In A Mother's Eyes
    By Andrew Dean
    � 1999 www.andrewdean.com

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/eyes.htm]
  • In Flanders Fields
    The Poem from WWI
    [www.english.emory.edu/LostPoets/McCrae.html]
  • I Stand Before You
    � 2001 Roger J. Robicheau (Sp 5, US Army), The Poetic Plumber
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/istand.html]
  • Liberty Be
    By Roger W Hancock
    � 2002 Roger W Hancock (www.PoetPatriot.com)

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/libertybe.htm]
  • Lucky
    From "Reveille to Taps...The Culture of an Army Child and Family"
    by Kimberly Anne Davis, 2 November 1997
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/davis.html]
  • Memorial - 2007
    © 2007 Dean C. Broome, MD JD.
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/memorial2007.htm]
  • Memorial Day
    © 2001 Anna, 3rd Grader, Academy Elementary School, Madison, Connecticut.
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/anna.htm]
  • Memorial Day
    By Michelle Keim © 2000, Commander of Royersford VFW Post 6341 in PA.
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/memday.htm]
  • Memorial Day
    By Eula Gladys Lincoln
    [pa-roots.org/~memorialday/mday.html]
  • Memorial Day
    © 2001 Luke, 3rd Grader, Academy Elementary School, Madison, Connecticut.
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/luke.htm]
  • Memorial Day
    © 2001 Tim F., 3rd Grader, Academy Elementary School, Madison, Connecticut.
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/timf.htm]
  • Memorial Day Poems
    At Alphabet-Soup
    [www.alphabet-soup.net/mem/memorialpoem.html]
  • Memorial Day Poems
    By Dell "Abe" Jones � 1991
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/abe.htm]
  • A Memorial Day Prayer
    By Rev. Dick Kozelka (ret.)
    [www.usmemorialday.org/prayer.html]
  • The Mother of a Soldier
    By Folger McKinsey
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/mother.htm]
  • No, Freedom Isn't Free
    By CDR Kelly Strong, USCG (Ret). � 1981
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/notfree.htm]
  • Not Free
    By Roger W Hancock
    � 2002 Roger W Hancock (www.PoetPatriot.com)

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/notfree2.htm]
  • Our Flag
    By Roger W Hancock
    � 2002 Roger W Hancock (www.PoetPatriot.com)

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/ourflag.htm]
  • Our Gift to the Fallen
    � 2007 Charlie Gragg
    Penryn, California

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/ourgift.htm]
  • Our Pride, Our Flag
    By Roger W Hancock
    � 2002 Roger W Hancock (www.PoetPatriot.com)

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/ourpride.htm]
  • The Poetry of Arlington National Cemetery
    Includes several Memorial Day specific poems
    [www.arlingtoncemetery.net/poetry.htm]
  • The Price
    By Roger W Hancock
    � 2002 Roger W Hancock (www.PoetPatriot.com)

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/theprice.htm]
  • The Promise Kept
    By Bruce Obermeyer � 2001
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/promise.html]
  • Remember Me
    By Jimmy Barlow � 2005
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/rememberme.htm]
  • Remembering...
    © 2001 Jessica F., 3rd Grader, Academy Elementary School, Madison, Connecticut
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/remembering.htm]
  • Remembering Their All
    By Colleen Reddaway Cook � May 1997
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/cook.htm]
  • The Sentinel At the Gates
    Alumni et Patriae Asto C John Puzzo 2002
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/sentinel.htm]
  • A Soldier
    Written in a Japanese POW camp by a Bataan Death March survivor at great peril to his life
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/soldier.html]
  • The Soldier
    © 2003 Neil Wetsch
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/thesoldier.htm]
  • Soldier Buried on the Battlefield
    Quoted by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in his 1895 Memorial Day speech at Harvard
    [www.people.Virginia.EDU/~mmd5f/poem25.html#soldier]
  • Tall And Free
    By Roger W Hancock
    � 2002 Roger W Hancock (www.PoetPatriot.com)

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/tallandfree.htm]
  • Taps: full text
    [www.usmemorialday.org/taps.html]
  • Those Now Gone (Memorial Day)
    By Roger W Hancock
    � 2002 Roger W Hancock (www.PoetPatriot.com)

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/nowgone.htm]
  • A Tribute to Veterans (Lyrics)
    By Jerry Calow � 2003
    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/tributelyrics.htm]
  • True Heroes Never Die
    By Michael Angelo � 1996
    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/angelo.htm]
  • We buried another veteran today
    � Major Van E. Harl, USAF Ret.
    Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, 28 November 2001

    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/weburied.html]
  • We Must Remember
    © 2003, Rev. Connie Gibbs
    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/mustremember.htm]
  • (We Need to Be) The RE-United States
    © 2001, Maria Rose/Mada Publishing
    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/weneed2b.htm]
  • What Heroes Gave
    � 2004 Roger J. Robicheau (Sp 5, US Army), The Poetic Plumber
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/istand.html]
  • What is Memorial Day?
    By Jim Hutchinson © 1998
    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/whatis.htm]
  • Whenever I See A Soldier Boy...
    By Sam Miller © 1942
    [www.mountaindragon.com/poetry/whatis.htm]
  • Yesterday we were parents
    A USS Cole poem
    By Michelle Keim © 2000, Commander of Royersford VFW Post 6341 in PA.
    [www.usmemorialday.org/poetry/usscole.htm]



© 1994 - 2009 SUVCW & David Merchant
Updated 4 April 2009

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