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Monday, May 28, 2012

Families We’re Thinking About This Memorial Day

John Hart at the American Military Cemetery in Italy. He was killed in 2003 in Iraq. (Courtesy of the Hart Family)

By: Alex Ashlock

On this Memorial Day, my thoughts are with the Gold Star families across the country. But I’m thinking especially about some of the people I’ve had contact with, who have lost loved ones to war.

Brian and Alma Hart of Bedford, Massachusetts lost their son John in Iraq, in 2003.

20-year-old Pfc. John Hart had called his father about a week before he was killed in an ambush, expressing concerns that the soldiers didn’t have enough body armor and were riding un unarmored vehicles.

John Hart is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

In the years after his death, the Harts have led an effort to get better armor and equipment for U.S. troops.

“Brian got this note from a woman once. Her son was the driver of a Humvee,” Alma Hart told Here and Now‘s Robin Young. “It blew up and he only lost his foot. They can’t protect around the gas pedal as well as the rest of the hull. And she was so grateful. And you have to sit down and contemplate that he only lost his foot.”

A nod of respect also today to Andrew Bacevich and his family. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He has been on our show many times. Like his father Bacevich’s son, Andrew Bacevich Jr., also served in the Army. Andrew Bacevich Jr. was killed in Iraq on Mother’s Day in 2007.

Finally, a word about two people for whom this Memorial Day must be especially difficult, because they really have two casualties of war, Carlos and Melida Arredondo. Carlos’ son, Marine Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo was killed in Najaf, Iraq in 2004. He was 20. This past December his other son, Brian, committed suicide. A family friend said Brian was never the same after his brother died. Brian was 24.

There were hundreds of people at Massachusetts National Cemetery on Cape Cod on Saturday to place American flags on the more than 50,000 graves there. One of them was a 32-year Army vet named Don McRae. He served in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. McRae had a simple message for all of us on this Memorial day: “My message would be to thank a veteran. Just say, ‘Hey thank you for your service.'”


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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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