Mark Mortensen's Blog

January 6, 2014

As we enter 2014, the Centennial year to recall the beginning of World War I, my hope is that the following years leading to the Armistice Centennial in 2018 will be a period of sincere reflection upon those from each side who served, those whose lives were forever altered and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Proper honor and recognition requires that history should prevail over fiction.

My thoughts often drift back to my grandfather Ove Mortensen, the longstanding patriarch of my family, who on the eve of Armistice crossed the Meuse River single file on flimsy wooden boards strung together, along with his battalion commander USMC Major George W. Hamilton. Jeff Shaara author of the fictional novel “To The Last Man” is likely unaware that the historic painting by artist Fredrick C. Yohn titled "The Last Night of the War" posted on the front cover of his book, in actuality features Major Hamilton in the middle holding his helmet surrounded by other 1/5 Marine comrades in action on the far bank of the Meuse River.

Hamilton one of the “Giant’s of the Corps”, who died in 1922, has looked down upon his grave in Arlington National Cemetery for many years now. It was a true honor to write Hamilton’s biography and detail his entire exploits along with two recommendations for the Medal of Honor in the First World War.
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Published on January 06, 2014 18:57 • 78 views

June 6, 2013

Sadly on Memorial Day only about 15% of the American flags across our country get lowered to half-staff. On Memorial Day the flag is to be at half-staff until noon and then put to full-staff (CRS Report for Congress, The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions, Updated April 14, 2008). The half-staff period represents mourning and raising the flag to full-staff shows that our nation lives on.

In this era, to coordinate the display of the American flag at all federal, state and local public localities, I wish for the law to be updated to placing the flag at half-staff Friday evening at the start of the three day weekend and raising the flag back to full-staff Tuesday morning and I ask for your assistance to prompt elected federal officials in accomplishing this for 2014.

Memorial Day is different from Veteran’s Day and our nation’s heritage is fading away.

On Memorial Day 2012 I was honored to be the guest speaker at the retirement facility of my friend USMC Col. J. Shelton Scales (Ret), who commanded the 3rd Battalion 23rd Marines at Iwo Jima. Of the original 24 battalion commanders on the island, today the colonel at 96 years of age is 1 of 2 still living. Reflecting upon D-Day at Iwo Jima the colonel once stated: "Feb. 19, 1945, is forever branded on my brain, and I could not let this date pass without acknowledging the enormous debt to those young men whose lives were so violently terminated. Those dead had their futures cancelled."

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Published on June 06, 2013 17:41 • 78 views