March 5, 2004
by Dennis Ryan, staff writer
Courtesy of the Pentagram
Thirteen years ago Iraq invaded Kuwait and quickly took over the small but oil rich country. The United States led a coalition to hold back the Iraqis in Operation Desert Shield (August 7, 1990 to January 16, 1991), while a large force was assembled in Saudi Arabia to oust Iraq in Operation Desert Storm.
Coalition aircraft and naval assets attacked Iraqi targets for six weeks, before a four-day ground offensive pushed the Iraqis out of Kuwait. The White House Commission on Remembrance held a ceremony Sunday at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 60 to honor those who fell.
Family members and friends of some of those who made the ultimate sacrifice attended the weekend events. Saturday night, the Kuwaiti Embassy hosted the family members at their cultural center in the District.
Ellen Hamilton came from Johnson City, Tenn. to remember her brother, Captain Daniel Graybeal, a medevac pilot who was shot down only five hours before a cease fire was declared on February 28, 1991.
“He was going after wounded Marines,” she said. “It's a healing process to be with the families that are going through the same thing.”
Joseph Cacace, a former soldier, brought his pregnant wife, Cindy and 22 month-old son Zachary to help remember his friend, William T. Butts.
“We were both in the Army,” he said. “I think [ceremonies] are good, especially for the families. And it's even better this year. We got Saddam, We could have got Saddam.”
Joe Galloway, author of “We were Soldiers Once and Young” spoke to the crowd of around 200. The corrspondent was the only civilian to earn a Bronze Star in Vietnam, for rescuing Soldiers.
“Each name represents a national tragedy and a national treasure,” Galloway said. “I pray for the end of war. God bless all soldiers who stand guard in foreign lands today.”
Secretary of the Navy Gordon England flew back the night before from Asia to speak.
“We don't fight for land,” England said. “We don't fight for money. We don't fight to enforce our will. We fight to preserve our way of life. Freedom is not free. Defeating the enemies of freedom is never easy, but we will prevail.”
Kuwait had 605 of its citizens taken away by Iraq. Ambassador Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah remembered the Americans who died and his own missing countrymen.
“Kuwaitis will always remember America's sacrifice,” he said. “Honoring those who did not return from the 1991 Gulf War is why we are here. If the U.S. had not attacked, I'd be in exile and Iraq would be stronger and more dangerous.”
The ambassador mentioned 75 Kuwaiti bodies have been found in Iraq since its liberation.
“America and its allies can take pride in liberating Kuwait and Iraq,” Al Sabah said. “Thank you for your service and sacrifice.”
George Shaw came to honor his nephew Timothy Alan Shaw, who died in the war at the age of 26.
“It never takes the hurt and pain away,” he said of such remembrance ceremonies. “It only helps you go another day. As long as I am living I will be a part of this ceremony to make sure he is not forgotten.”
Shaw spoke perhaps for the other families when he mentioned the ongoing actions in Iraq.
“Everyday we lose one or two,” he said. “It's painful, because you know some family, just like our family, is going through the sorrow.”
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard