This Memorial Day weekend, visitors to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. were able to view the Poppy Wall of Honor for the second year.
The temporary, 133 foot long display of over 645,000 poppy flowers — one for every American service member killed since World War I — was visited by more than 15,000 people in 2018, the United Services Automobile Association, who sponsors the exhibit, said in a press release.
"Memorial Day is our opportunity to remember and acknowledge those who've made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, protecting our principles and our way of life," USAA CEO Stuart Parker said. "The poppy flower is the symbol of remembrance, and by bringing awareness through our Poppy Wall of Honor, we have created a powerful way to honor these fallen heroes through action."
On the exhibit's website, users can scroll through poppies that have been dedicated to specific service men and women, and view a virtual reality video that explains the significance of the poppy.
This year's exhibit is accompanied by a video (below) with two paratroopers who stormed Normandy, as commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, coming up on June 6, 2019.
"My feeling about it — no, I'm not a hero," Donald Jakeway, who served with the Army's 82nd Airborne, 508th PIR, H Company, said. "I did the job that they asked me to do. But I'm a survivor. Not many of us are able to say that."
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines
for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.