Monday, May 30, 2016

A Memorial Day Memoir

On this Memorial Day, I'd like to share this article that my Daddy wrote to commemorate one of our very own. May we never forget the sacrifices that were made to secure our freedom, and may we always share stories like this one with our children, friends, and loved ones, in order to be reminded that Freedom isn't FREE!

Memorial Day 2016
A New Perspective
By Dan Holladay, Jr.
The last Monday in May is here and we celebrate another Memorial Day. Ah! It’s a day off work or a day out of school enjoying all the trappings of another Holiday Celebration. There are picnics, boating and skiing on the lake, barbequing ribs and Boston Butts on the grill with family, friends and neighbors in the backyard, or a round of golf or perhaps a trip to the old ball park to see our favorite team play. Then there is the possibility we’re simply lounging around the pool soaking up some of the rays being provided by old “Sol.” In the midst of all of this fun and frolic we also may find just a brief moment to pause and remember those for whom this day was originally intended. Those brave and daring young men who voluntarily left home and love ones to go off and defend our country from the evil despots who dared to threaten our very existence.

For the Holladay Family this Memorial Day will be different; because for the first time in our lives, we will truly celebrate the life, legacy and lore of one of our own, who made the supreme sacrifice in the defense of our freedom during World War ll and after almost seventy- three years, has found his way back home. You see our Uncle, Sergeant John C Holladay USMC, was killed in action on New Georgia Island on July 20, 1943. His body was buried on the battlefield; but after the war was ended efforts to retrieve it and send it home for proper burial were unsuccessful. In 1949 the US Government declared his body unrecoverable and the books were closed; and we were left with nothing but memories wondering what ever happened to our loved one. This was a heavy burden for our Grandparents and his two siblings, James Herbert and Daniel to bear. But thank God this is not the end of the story.

In 2015 a local resident was digging on his property on New Georgia Island and unearthed human remains and turned them over to proper authorities who in turn gave them to our US government. These remains were then sent to a lab in Hawaii and processed and loaded into a data base. Knowing that our Uncle had been buried in that general area, government officials solicited DNA samples from members our family; and much to our sheer and utter amazement determined there was a match. By God’s “Amazing Grace” Uncle Charlton’s remains had been found!

The Marine Corp contacted us and met with us and began the process of having his remains returned to his homeland for proper burial with full military honors. As we prepared for this eventuality we began researching and reading all we could about the war in the Solomon Islands and discovered a book called “Edson’s Raiders” written by Colonel Joseph H. Alexander. Sergeant John C. Holladay was mentioned in the book no less than eight times. As a result things we had been told by family members who knew him were affirmed for us. He was a world class marksman who could shoot “the eye out of an ant.” He was a free spirit who could make a guitar sing and knew all 27 verses to the ballad “John Henry.” He was a fine Marine and much more.

His remains arrived in Charleston SC on Friday April 1st and escorted to his hometown of Florence, SC that very afternoon. The following Monday April 4, 2016, his 100th Birthday, he was taken to the Florence National Cemetery and properly interred with full military honors. What an amazing day this was for our family. Our fallen Hero was home where he belonged and we were no longer left to wonder about the location of his remains. We know where they are and we can visit and celebrate his life on Memorial Day or any other day of our choosing, We thank God for His Amazing Grace and allowing us this wonderful privilege.

Memorial Day will never be the same. Praise God!

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it along to our children through the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on to them to do the same.
~ Ronald Reagan

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