Memorial Day isn’t just about honoring veterans. It’s honoring those who lost their lives. Veterans had the fortune of coming home. For us, that’s a reminder of when we come home we still have a responsibility to serve. It’s a continuation of service that honors our country and those who fell defending it.
~ Pete Hegseth
Years ago my Great Uncle Ernie said to me, almost verbatim, the same thing. I was thanking him, a decorated WWII 1st Lieutenant, pilot and POW, for his service and wishing him a “happy Memorial Day”. Truly I can not be more proud for his service, my Grandpap as a Navy Seabee, my father’s and step-dad’s service in the Navy and Air Force, my father in law service in the Coast Guard, my Uncle fighting as a Marine in Vietnam and my brothers’ service in the Marine Corps. But they, as Ernie reminded me, all came home to their families and lived. On Memorial Day I should be honoring the ones who gave all, and their loved ones who lost so much.
Before work this holiday weekend, I took the time to pay my respects to the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, a half-sized traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington D. C. Walking along side it seeing name after name after name after name….one can not help but be overwhelmed of the enormity of the loss…names of young men and women who did not come home. It’s humbling, even for a pacifist like me. My uncles words resonated loudly in my mind as I stopped at each panel and reflected on a random name.
I stopped then at panel 23W and reflected on this name.
1st LT Sharon A. Lane of the 312th Evacuation Hospital, Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam worked caring for injured Vietnamese as well as the most critically injured American soldiers in the surgical ICU. She wrote home upbeat letters to her parents about movies she missed, the heat and GIs in her care. Her last letter home she ended it with “see you sooner.”
On the morning of June 8, 1969, the 312th Evacuation Hospital was struck by a salvo of rockets fired by the Viet Cong. One rocket struck between Wards 4A and 4B, killing two people and wounding another twenty-seven. Among the dead was 1st Lt Lane, who died instantly of fragmentation wounds to the chest. She was one month shy of her twenty-sixth birthday.
Though one of eight American military nurses who died while serving in Vietnam, Sharon Lane was the only American nurse killed as a direct result of hostile fire.
photo credit: northwestvets.com
So today I honor, remember and thank a fellow nurse who served saving lives and died in combat. Thank you 1st Lt Sharon Lane.