Remembering our fallen troops

May 26, 2008 4:23:47 PM PDT
Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor America's war dead. Hundreds of people visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Penns Landing today - some leaving flowers, others leaving flags... all leaving with an air of reverence and gratitude.

There was a similar scene nearby at the Korean War Memorial. Many veterans came for today's ceremony there as well. They and others fought in what's been called America's forgotten war. But those who died can never be forgotten. There are many stories of loved ones lost in America's wars.

"Being a soldier was his niche in life." Brenda Phelan is remembering her soul mate and husband, 44-year-old Lt. Col. Mark Phelan. She says he was a humorous, hands-on kind of guy who wanted to protect his troops and make Iraq work for Iraqi's.

His Norristown-based reserve unit helped get motorcycles for the local police. Brenda says his proudest achievement was starting up the Nineveh Business Center.

Brenda explains, "It was a center they set up to give loans to the locals who wished to start businesses. A way to jump start the economy, get kids off the street."

Brenda spent some of this Memorial Day weekend in her garden surrounded by some of her feathered flock. She was in the same garden on October 13th 2004 mulling over the pros and cons of Mark's return to Iraq - just two days before when she says she just knew something terrible had happened.

"He was gone. I knew that SOMETHING had HAPPENED to him. And 11 o'clock that night they showed up at my door to tell me that he had been killed."

Phelan had decided to return to Iraq to take the business center model to other cities.

Brenda explains, "He was actually going to Baghdad to do that. To get that in motion and he was killed by a VBIED... a vehicle born improvised explosive device."

A truck bomb... the 22-year veteran was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Brenda has formed a small foundation in his name. Its goal is to aid those in uniform and their families.

On this day she hopes all of us remember what they do.