Thoughts on Memorial Day from a Gold Star Wife

Memorial Day, noun:
1. a day, May 30, set aside in most states of the U.S. for observances in memory of dead members of the armed forces of all wars: now officially observed on the last Monday in May.
2. any of several days, as April 26, May 10, or June 3, similarly observed in various Southern states.

With that definition, this day is not about the men and women who have served and then returned home to their families. It is about the men and women who have given their lives for our Freedom – the ones that did NOT return. They died so that we could live our American life. So that we could enjoy BBQs, picnics, be able to drink a cold beer in the warm sun with family and friends. To have the luxury of getting this day off from work and being able to spend it with the ones who you love so deeply.

I am the wife of US Marine Corps Lance Corporal (LCPL) James Stack who gave his life for us on November 10, 2010, in Afghanistan. He left behind me and my daughter who was 10 months old at the time. Every day is Memorial Day for my family. However, the official Memorial Day is a day of REMEMBRANCE. It’s about the families who struggle each and every day because their hero was taken from them so suddenly.

On Memorial Day, we honor not only my husband, James, but also every man and woman who have given their lives for our Freedom.

This day is not a happy day for my family. It’s not about all the coupons & the sales. It is about those who served and sacrificed, who gave all – for us.

Each year, I will do my to express the REAL meaning of this day. My eight-year-old daughter knows her daddy is in heaven, and every time she sees that American flag flying high in the sky, she remembers him and knows the sacrifices that he has made.

This is what Memorial Day means to my family. My one request is to teach your children the true meaning of this day. Tell them to take some time and honor all of our Fallen Heroes & their families.

Thank you to all for the wonderful support you have shown us these past eight years.

Gold Star Wife & Daughter
Katie & Mikayla Stack

The Visit

Standing there
Seeing past my reflection
In that black granite wall

Past the names
Etched in a roll call
Of those gone from us
But not forgotten

Seeing into the past
And into their faces
This black shiny monument
Is a mirror into my soul

I can take strength
Acknowledge my losses
My angers, my sadness

I can go forward
Knowing I owe my life
Both today and tomorrow
To my brothers and sisters
On this Wall

By Penni Evans (Red Cross Donut Dollie)
in peace

Memorial Day 2018

There was a time when stores were closed and every community had a parade or Memorial Service to honor those who had died in service to the nation. Today Memorial Day is for sales and picnics.

So many times we are confused about the meaning of Memorial Day. It is not a day for the living but rather a day to honor those who have died in service to their nation. The link below provides an unbiased and easy to review history and meaning of Memorial Day.

Take a few minutes to review and then share with others so that for this 2018 Memorial Day we will know it is more than the beginning of summer or a sale.

Memorial Day – a history


“My Life Since 1968” ~ Bill Cornish

Berean Academy–Class of 1968
Monday, March 19, 2018

I have been enjoying reading the stories from the classmates that have written in. It’s a reminder that through all the good times, as well as the bad, God is ever-present. I found this out in a very personal way, in the fall of 1971.

By this time I had made a total mess of my life. In less than three years, I had lost the most wonderful Christian (and pretty) girl that God had placed in my life. I had lost both my parents, my health and my Faith. It’s hard to imagine, looking back, but it was drugs, alcohol, and fear. I was having major anxiety attacks and depression. Every morning, my first thought was ‘is this going to be the day’. I was to the point where it was too much to handle.

I was spending a lot of time in and out of the hospital. While in Vietnam, I had developed a severe kidney disease from agent orange. (I was later operated on for cancer).

I didn’t realize that I was going to write all of this. The good news is though, one evening I walked into a small white church in Colorado Springs. I have absolutely no recollection of the service. What I will never forget, however, is walking out of that little church totally free. I felt clean and washed. The fear was gone! Looking back, I realize that it was spiritual darkness. It was real, but the power of God is greater!

My discharge date was delayed because I was still in the hospital at that time. I had no idea where I would go when I got out. One day someone came by and said I had a letter. Lennie and I hadn’t communicated in over a year and a half. I held her letter for a long time, afraid to open it. I guess I thought it was a wedding announcement or something. Anyway, I was discharged December the 15th. We were married two weeks later on Christmas Eve.

God has been very good. We have a son and two daughters, and good crop of grandkids.
God is good and His mercy is forever.


We built calluses
On our souls

Each event
Each experience

Adding a new layer
A toughening

Which allowed
Us to survive

Made us perfect

We no longer
Felt much of anything

The pain
Became nonexistent

But it is still deep
Within our souls

As time goes on
The calluses soften

No longer used
Out of practice

Then the pain

Outside our
Realm of consciousness

The pain
Begins to build

As the tissues
Peel away

The rawness

Is all
That remains

by Penni Evans
Vietnam Donut Dollie

The Vietnam Warriors Lament

The Vietnam Warrior’s Lament

Was it a war or was it not, a time of flux for some of us
A tumultuous time, a time to pray, a time of conflict, all tucked away
At times we share a look inside, a soul too numb, too vilified
We keep inside those horrid thoughts, we brand ourselves a deadman’s walk
In combat once, civilian now, a troubled soul yet to resolve
To we who know, a brotherhood, to others though, misunderstood
Address us now, the emptiness, the fragile man such hopelessness
Regard us then how ere you must, so quick to judge, with vile repress
Come back again and tell us now, how brave we were, a hero child
Once driven by uncertainty, a thing so wrong a travesty
As images steal our minds it seems, those wretched things we can’t redeem
Until they leave we lose control, we live again each dreadful role
Let’s lift our arms up to the sky and offer thanks, no withered cry
To us I say hold fast to that, forgive your heart, unbind your mind, left fear depart
And in the end, when time is done, look at the light where God is from
And at your end when you go home, the words will be, Come….Welcome Home

Written by; Gene Giunta

Vietnam, 1968-1969

Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Three

Gaston County Library Presentation

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Today I had the honor to speak at the Gaston County, North Carolina about my book, WHEN WE CAME HOME, How the Vietnam War changed those who served. I was joined by Vietnam veterans and those who have an interest in those tumultuous days.

The presentation was well received and followed by a lively round of questions. I was able to sign books for many who attended. I had the privilege of signing a book for Rev. Houston Matthews who is an Episcopal Priest and Vietnam veteran of the Marine Corps. He was severely wounded at Khe Sanh in 1968.

I thank the staff of the library for arranging this presentation!