Decoration Day

Colonel_FeltsMemorial Day, when those who gave their “last full measure” are to be remembered.
Some history from VA.gov:
“Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
“The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
“The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.”
To recap, the day started as “Decoration Day,” and was about remembering and decorating the graves of those who had died in the Civil War (widely known south of the Mason-Dixon Line as “the War Between the States” or “the War of Northern Aggression”). It was to be a day of remembrance.
I met then Lieutenant Colonel Tom Felts, Sr., when he was the chief of the III Corps Analysis and Control Element (ACE) at Fort Hood, Texas. He was a very patient man, eager to make every moment as teachable as possible. He also went out of his way to make sure that subordinate units (like mine) were as completely integrated as could be, and that we knew precisely what was expected. He welcomed us to the team completely. I never met his family, and I pretty much only saw him “behind the green door” or in an expando van. Yet, he was a great mentor, and it was also clear to me that whichever room he was in…..he was the smartest guy in the room.
I moved on to a different unit, and I lost track of him.
I didn’t find out until 2007 that he was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Iraq on 14 November 2006. Colonel Felts had volunteered to deploy to Iraq as a Military Transition Team (MiTT) leader, a senior advisor to the Iraqi military, and had been in country since January 2006. When he and his driver were killed by an IED on the streets of Baghdad, he became one of the most senior leaders to be killed during the conflict. He is obviously still missed by his family, but he is also still missed by those whom he mentored.
In memory of Colonel Thomas H. Felts.

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