A solemn day

Today, I’ll be thinking of United States Marine Cpl. Louis Hauge Jr. He was like many young men of his era. Prior to the start of World War II, he left school early to work first at a cannery in his hometown of Ada, Minnesota and then at a shipyard in Tacoma Washington.

While serving on Okinawa as a member of the 1st Marine Division, Cpl. Hague led his machine gun squad up a heavily fortified hill on May 14, 1945. His company was quickly pinned down by a barrage of mortar and machine gun fire. Cpl. Hauge spotted the two guns responsible for the damage and rushed across an open area, heaving hand grenades as he ran. He was hit before he reached the first gun, but he continued his assault, destroying the position.

Without stopping, he attacked the second gun, demolishing it before getting hit by a Japanese sniper. His actions though paved the way for his company to press forward.

He died instantly. He was just 20 years old.

Col. Norman E. True, USMC, presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to Cpl. Hauge’s father on June 14, 1946. His remains are interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Memorial Day honors all military members who have died in while serving in U.S. forces. I’ll be thinking of Cpl. Hague and others like him who served with honor and courage and made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our way of life.

Thank God for these true heroes.

***

I’ll be thinking too of the Robb Elementary shooting last week in Uvalde, Texas and the nineteen students and two teachers who were killed and seventeen other people who were wounded. The shooter legally purchased a semi-automatic rifle and 375 rounds of ammunition from a local gun store on May 17, 2022, a day after his 18th birthday, and purchased another rifle three days later.

And to think, I used to have problems just trying to rent a car from a rental car company before I turned 25 years old.

Yes, the United States has a mental health problem. For everyone, like Sen. Ted Cruz, who says the problem ends at mental health, I would point out our neighbors to the north, who share the same music and movies and play the same violent video games. Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, the U.S. has had 200 school shootings, Canada has had 3.

And, yes, our schools need increased funding for infrastructure, but we must be willing to have serious conversations and be willing to act on common sense gun legislation. I love the outdoors and grew up hunting. I understand why some folks have an interest in gun ownership.

However, an 18-year-old buying two semi-automatic and more than 375 rounds of ammunition is not right. It took my wife and I longer to get our marriage certificate oh so many years ago. (I keep wondering too: Why did the gun store not blink twice at the purchase?)

As I think about the tragedy, I keep coming back to the same reality: Until we’re willing to talk about deeper background checks and gun legislation in a serious way without the politics and money muddying the waters, we’re just waiting for the next mass shooting incident to happen.

What a horrible thought? No parent should have to suffer through this kind of loss. So, yes, I’ll be thinking too of Uvalde and Buffalo, where ten patrons were shot at a Tops Friendly Markets store, a supermarket in the East Side neighborhood of Buffalo on May 14.

The day is a solemn one, but I’ll be reminded once again that life is precious and we’re called to love and enjoy life to the fullest!

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