U.S. Air National Guard/Senior Airman Jonathan W. Padish
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.
EULESS, Texas — Six months ago, Larry Fromme rarely left his apartment, and he worried that he might get evicted as he struggled to pay his rent and buy groceries.
Fromme, 80, is a disabled veteran who served in the U.S. Army as a private first class in Germany at the height of the Cold War. He was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, and said he often had nightmares about serving in a stressful environment.
Fromme recalled what it was like to be isolated and the difficulties of finding people who understood his struggles.
"I was down in the dumps," he said. "I was looking for people to talk to."
Fromme described how it was difficult for him to leave his apartment as no one thanked him for his service, although he wore his cap displaying the words, "disabled veteran" when he went shopping.
But now life is getting better for Fromme as he regularly meets with veterans who understand the stress of serving in the military and what it is like to be ignored.
For 12 years, she was there for Fort Hood, Texas, troops going to and coming from deployments to combat zones with her engaging smile, words of comfort and, always, that great big hug -- maybe a half million of them.
Now, an online petition has been started requesting the Defense Department to rename the place that served as her second home -- the Fort Hood Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group terminal (A/DACG) -- for Elizabeth Corrine Laird, aka the "Hug Lady."
On the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. Army tweeted a video of Pfc. Nathan Spencer with the 1st Infantry Division, who said the Army has given him the opportunity to "give to others, to protect the ones I love, and to better myself as a man and a warrior."
Then the Army tweeted a simple, open-ended question: "How has serving impacted you?"
Editor's note: this story originally appeared in 2017.
How you die matters. Ten years ago, on Memorial Day, I was in Fallujah, serving a year-long tour on the staff and conducting vehicle patrols between Abu Ghraib and Ramadi. That day I attended a memorial service in the field. It was just one of many held that year in Iraq, and one of the countless I witnessed over my 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Like many military veterans, Memorial Day is not abstract to me. It is personal; a moment when we remember our friends. A day, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth."