Memorial Day 2013

In Memoriam
History • Views: 34,266

While so many Americans are busy enjoying the weather, grilling and barbequing or watching major sporting events, we should remember what Memorial Day is all about.

All gave some. Some gave all.

Remember those who fought in defense of the nation and those who made the supreme sacrifice. Words cannot fully explain what these men and women have left behind - both in terms of the loss to their family and friends, and what a grateful nation has gained from defending the freedoms that many still take for granted despite being born from the blood, sweat, and tears of these men and women.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Taken 3/2005

So, while many of us sit back and enjoy the barbecues, the Indy 500, baseball, and other sporting events, take a few moments to remember all those who served and made it possible and who are no longer with us.

[Cross-posted at A Blog For All.]

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51 comments

1 PhillyPretzel  Mon, May 27, 2013 7:13:51am

G-d bless all those who have served this nation.

2 Lidane  Mon, May 27, 2013 8:30:19am
3 Absalom, Absalom, Obdicut  Mon, May 27, 2013 8:33:07am

My grandfather signed up as an American and a Jew to go fight Hitler, so of course the Army shipped him out to the South Pacific. He was in the Army Corps of Engineers, a logistics man who also took to the occasionally-front lines in landing boats, but faced more danger in getting his flotillas from one island to another without having them sunk.

He got engaged to my grandma the day before he left for WWII, and he wrote to her constantly throughout the war— and when he became Captain, the letters are all censored by him.

He contracted malaria and some other terrible disease out in the jungle and spent weeks at a time wracked by fever. His health was never good, but it was severely affected after the war. He recalled his time in the Army fondly, as some of the best times of his life, but at the same time made me promise never to join the military unless the US was attacked on its own soil.

As he got older and his health problems increased, his mood darkened and he became almost nihilistic in philosophy, but he remained constant to his fellow veterans, employing them when he could and using his contacts and skill with bureaucracy to help other veterans and their widows and dependents with paperwork.

He and grandma are buried in the Presidio Military Cemetery, and he is buried next to a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. It is a beautiful cemetery, most graves of the simplest kind, and all ranks lie next to each other there.

One of the things I miss about San Francisco is laying flowers on their grave.

4 William Barnett-Lewis  Mon, May 27, 2013 8:34:35am

Please remember that Memorial day is about those who did not come home, not those of us who did. Veteran’s Day is about all of us.

Remember instead those who gave their last full measure of devotion.

5 Absalom, Absalom, Obdicut  Mon, May 27, 2013 8:35:32am

re: #4 William Barnett-Lewis

Oh, is my screed about grandpa inappropriate then?

To me— we lost him when I was very young because of his health being ruined in the war, and parts of him never really came home.

6 William Barnett-Lewis  Mon, May 27, 2013 8:37:35am

re: #3 Absalom, Absalom, Obdicut

My grandfather signed up as an American and a Jew to go fight Hitler, so of course the Army shipped him out to the South Pacific.

Beautiful story.

I quoted this though because it caught my eye. See my FiL joined the Navy to fight the Japanese. So instead he ended up on PT boats on U-boat patrol off the coast of Virginia.

I can’t complain; he met his wife (a colonel’s secretary at the Pentagon) and that brought me _my_ wife. So I’m thankful we don’t always get what we think we want.

7 William Barnett-Lewis  Mon, May 27, 2013 8:41:04am

re: #5 Absalom, Absalom, Obdicut

Oh, is my screed about grandpa inappropriate then?

To me— we lost him when I was very young because of his health being ruined in the war, and parts of him never really came home.

Please accept my apology - it’s not inappropriate. I just get tired of being “thanked” for my peace time service - Germany in the 1980’s was a playground really - and so I’d rather people remember those who gave much more than I ever had to. Your grandfather certainly qualifies as do so many others.

Still today started as Decoration Day to honor the dead of the American Civil War and it’s always the dead I think of first.

8 Bob Dillon  Mon, May 27, 2013 8:45:39am

Forgotten Heroes

They return from every war
Thanking God to be alive
They meld into society,
Feeling blessed that they survived.

Some, with daily nightmares
And memories hard to bear,
Some, with physical reminders,
Of limbs no longer there.

Some, with great hopes for the future,
Discover jobs hard to find
And they feel that this country
Is neither loyal or kind.

Some of them return,
To be confined to bed and chair
And never have a visitor
To offer thanks or a word of cheer.

They are the forgotten heroes,
Who answered this nation’s call,
Our brave, American Veterans…
Who were willing to give their all.

- Author Unknown

I know, this is more appropriate for Veterans Day. However …

9 Sol Berdinowitz  Mon, May 27, 2013 8:52:46am

A lotta people told me how overwhelmed they were by the opening scene of “Saving Private Ryan”. I was mentally prepared for it and much more concentrated on how they got it to look so god-awfully authentic…then I got drawn into the movie, and it was the final scene when the Master Sergeant, Captain Miller’s second in command, was killed.

It left me a blubbering wreck.

Took me a while to figure out…then it dawned on me.

My dad, who looked a bit like Tom Sizemore, who played the character, was born in 1914. He was 4F and had a job rolling steel at the plant in Gary, but under other circumstances, he could well have been that Master Sergeant, at age 30 one of the older guys in the unit, the fellow everyone relies on, and I realized that final scene brought out the whole trauma I went through when he died…

Anyways, Happy Memorial Day, everyone…Not a holiday in Germany, needless to say, but for that, we have a long weekend holiday coming up, Corpus Christi.

(Why do they name religious holidays after towns in Texas?)

10 BigPapa  Mon, May 27, 2013 8:55:59am

I actually think of the living the most: being gone from your family for months at a time, living through or being asked to participate in horrific violence, bearing the burden of it for the rest of your life. And sometimes being added on top of that, physical injuries. The family members and friends of the dead.

My father was too young for Korea and got out right before Vietnam. I’ve always felt lucky about that.

I can’t help to watch a war movie and wonder if I’d make it through, the thought of my wife waiting for my coffin. Or if I survived but had trouble coming to terms with my experiences, causing both of us turmoil for the rest of our lives. We have a hard time spending a few days away from each other, so the stress of me being away for 6-9-12 months at a time and stressing out about me is hard to comprehend.

Even military and their families who don’t or won’t see combat endure stress and sacrifice.

This really is the most solemn of days.

11 Political Atheist  Mon, May 27, 2013 8:56:33am

re: #8 Bob Dillon
re: #7 William Barnett-Lewis
re: #3 Absalom, Absalom, Obdicut

To me the day signifies remembrance, sadness, gratitude and national sacrifice. Perhaps the best lesson to take from this day is to think of war as one of humankind’s worst sins. Each and every gravestone is an argument to find another way to settle over land, water, religion or pride. Each military cemetery a chorus of souls telling us we must learn and evolve past mass violence.

I never served in the service. All I have to offer is support and gratitude, and gratefully experience the blessing of a peaceful life thanks to the men & women that serve in wear in peace, or war, that fall or that survive.

12 Montysano  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:04:07am

On Memorial Day I always find myself conflicted. Yes, I stand in awe of those who gave their life and/or limbs in military service. But I’m troubled by the thought that they died “defending our freedom”. When was there ever an existential threat to the USA? Possibly WWII? In all other cases, we went to war because we decided to, not because we were attacked, or even threatened with attack. So I have a hard time honoring wars of choice, and our current state of political rhetoric makes it almost impossible to separate the actual war from those who fought it.

Also: if there’s a cheaper, less meaningful way to honor the military than going for a ride on your Harley, I’m not aware of it.

13 HappyWarrior  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:07:45am

Hard not to think of my grandfather who was in Korea. It’s hit me that I’m almost three whole years older than he was when he got discharged. I don’t think I could have done what he did. I know it was tough for him especially since while not a pacifist, he had actually tried to get conscientious objector status. There are other vets in my family too but I’ll think of him mostly today since I’m named after him.

14 nines09  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:16:27am

I remember and I give thanks. To the lives never lived and the dreams never caught.
Rest.
Peace.

15 Sol Berdinowitz  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:16:50am

re: #12 Montysano

On Memorial Day I always find myself conflicted. Yes, I stand in awe of those who gave their life and/or limbs in military service. But I’m troubled by the thought that they died “defending our freedom”. When was there ever an existential threat to the USA? Possibly WWII? In all other cases, we went to war because we decided to, not because we were attacked, or even threatened with attack. So I have a hard time honoring wars of choice, and our current state of political rhetoric makes it almost impossible to separate the actual war from those who fought it.

Also: if there’s a cheaper, less meaningful way to honor the military than going for a ride on your Harley, I’m not aware of it.

It’s not about the country, right or wrong, it’s about the sacrifice made by the soldiers, they did so out of a sincere sense of fulfilling their duty and serving a higher purpose. Whether they were deluded into that sense or not is secondary.

16 Absalom, Absalom, Obdicut  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:17:31am

re: #12 Montysano

If they didn’t die defending that freedom, that’s the fault of civilians, not of them.

17 wrenchwench  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:17:32am

Some gave all and were not so welcome back at home.

Youtube Video

18 sattv4u2  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:20:50am

re: #12 Montysano

re: #15 Sol Berdinowitz

It’s not about the country, right or wrong, it’s about the sacrifice made by the soldiers, they did so out of a sincere sense of fulfilling their duty and serving a higher purpose. Whether they were deluded into that sense or not is secondary.

re: #16 Absalom, Absalom, Obdicut

If they didn’t die defending their freedom, that’s the fault of civilians, not of them.

These

19 HappyWarrior  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:21:07am

re: #16 Absalom, Absalom, Obdicut

If they didn’t die defending that freedom, that’s the fault of civilians, not of them.

Indeed- by the way. Beautiful story about your grandfather.

20 Vicious Babushka  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:34:11am
21 ProTARDISLiberal  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:34:41am

To revive the thread, I will note that I made my first edit to Wikipedia in a little while.

22 HappyWarrior  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:38:56am

“He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front. He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.”
This line always struck me from Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. AQWF was the first novel that I read on my own that I really enjoyed. The beauty of that novel to me is one forgets easily that the protagonist- Baumer and his comrades were soldiers in the service of a nation that was our enemy during that war. To add to that thought, I remember doing a paper on Germany in WWI and looking at actual soldiers’ letters. They start out so hopeful and idealistic but eventually there’s disilusionment. Most of the men who I quoted letters from never made it home. It’s always struck me that with war, some can come out of it totally transformed and never want to life an arm again and there are others who are hungry for the next war. That’s not meant to be political but rather commentary on how human beings respond to dramatic events around them.

23 Vicious Babushka  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:39:35am

In memory of Zedushka’s Uncle Ike, who is he named for, who died April 9, 1945 in a Kamikaze attack on the U.S.S. Henrico.

24 Romantic Heretic  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:39:52am

This is the song that always comes to mind when I think about our veterans.

Youtube Video

I honour the men and women that gave so much for us, but I share Georges Clemenceau’s view of war, (it) is a series of catastrophes followed by victory.

War is a habit we humans are going to have to put aside if we wish to survive.

25 Bob Dillon  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:41:59am

re: #12 Montysano

When one joins the military an oath to protect the Constitution, America and it’s citizens is taken. Every member of the military has taken the oath to protect you to the death. Most take this oath very seriously.

They also have sworn to follow the orders of the President.The President is the representative of the American people.

When the military goes to war, when they risk their lives or die, it is because the American people asked them to.

The military personnel that are dying, spending months away from home, enduring countless difficult times are all doing this because the American people asked them to.

26 HappyWarrior  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:42:26am

re: #24 Romantic Heretic

This is the song that always comes to mind when I think about our veterans.

[Embedded content]

I honour the men and women that gave so much for us, but I share Georges Clemenceau’s view of war, (it) is a series of catastrophes followed by victory.

War is a habit we humans are going to have to put aside if we wish to survive.

“Never knew that there were worse things than dying.” I think that’s powerful.

27 Romantic Heretic  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:45:35am

re: #22 HappyWarrior

Kindermord bei Ypren Translation: Massacre of the innocents at Ypres

28 HappyWarrior  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:46:20am

re: #25 Bob Dillon

When one joins the military an oath to protect the Constitution, America and it’s citizens is taken. Every member of the military has taken the oath to protect you to the death. Most take this oath very seriously.

They also have sworn to follow the orders of the President.The President is the representative of the American people.

When the military goes to war, when they risk their lives or die, it is because the American people asked them to.

The military personnel that are dying, spending months away from home, enduring countless difficult times are all doing this because the American people asked them to.

I’m well aware of that. Believe me, I’ve had friends that have served in our recent wars.

29 HappyWarrior  Mon, May 27, 2013 9:51:44am

re: #27 Romantic Heretic

Kindermord bei Ypren Translation: Massacre of the innocents at Ypres

Can’t imagine what those guys went through. It really as I said striking to read early letters of soldiers who really thought the war would end quickly and had no idea that it would last as long as it in fact did.

30 First As Tragedy, Then As Farce  Mon, May 27, 2013 10:04:10am

For most of my life, I was under the impression that Memorial Day was intended to memorialize *everyone* who has been killed in war. I can’t be sure, but I think I got that impression from my great grandmother, who was fairly proficient at spinning her own special remixes of both fact and fiction during my formative years.

When I found out that it was specifically and only for members of the military, I was slightly disappointed. It’s important to remember military dead, but just about every war since the beginning of the 20th century has resulted in civilian death tolls at least equal and in many cases far surpassing military deaths.

31 Iwouldprefernotto  Mon, May 27, 2013 10:07:12am

Memorial Day, Salisbury CT.

People gather to remember. I think small towns really now how to observe the holiday. Not a lot of speeches/prayers. No politics. Just the honor role, the Gettysburg address (read by a sixth grader), 21 gun salute and a closing hymn. A nice crowd for small town.

Memorial Day 2013, Salisbury CT

32 wrenchwench  Mon, May 27, 2013 10:34:01am

Why you should follow @New_Mexico_News, even if you don’t live in New Mexico.

Here are a bunch more.

33 Tigger2005  Mon, May 27, 2013 10:46:24am

There will be no barbecuing in Kansas City today, unless the weather clears, we are under a steady rain right now. But the weather last night for “Celebration at the Station,” the 11th annual free patriotic concert given by the Kansas City Symphony, was absolutely fantastic. There was a beautiful performance by Musicorps of “Hallelujah,” joined by Oleta Adams, and the concert ended with Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” followed by Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” and a gorgeous fireworks display. This annual Memorial Day concert, largest in the Midwest, just gets better and better every year. It’s a perfect location, with the lawn of the Liberty Memorial sloping down to monumental Union Station opposite, where the concert stage is set up. Cannon in front of the Memorial fire blanks during the Overture, and the fireworks explode above and behind the Memorial’s spire. Always a fantastic experience.

34 122 Year Old Obama  Mon, May 27, 2013 11:14:14am

re: #32 wrenchwench

Reminds me of a horse_ebooks.

35 Majacita  Mon, May 27, 2013 11:14:17am

Here in Appalachia it is a day to remember the war dead (we have the highest percentage of populations of people killed in battle anywhere, or so I’ve been told) but it is also a day to mourn the dead in general. We go to our cemeteries, place flowers on graves, walk our children around the stones and tell them stories of Uncle Bill, Aunt Lula, Great Grandfather Burl. Some of the stories we were told ourselves in the same way. It is like the Mexican Day of the Dead.

36 wrenchwench  Mon, May 27, 2013 11:26:44am

re: #34 122 Year Old Obama

Reminds me of a horse_ebooks.

I like this more because there’s a real news story behind most of the tweets, so it’s slightly less random, yet more surreal.

37 stabby  Mon, May 27, 2013 11:27:19am

re: #32 wrenchwench

Ancient eras rot away into air, become plants, food, people, steal sunglasses from a Santa Fe mall. Arrest that man! That time. That air.

Upding for poetry.

38 wrenchwench  Mon, May 27, 2013 11:29:54am

re: #35 Majacita

Here in Appalachia it is a day to remember the war dead (we have the highest percentage of populations of people killed in battle anywhere, or so I’ve been told) but it is also a day to mourn the dead in general. We go to our cemeteries, place flowers on graves, walk our children around the stones and tell them stories of Uncle Bill, Aunt Lula, Great Grandfather Burl. Some of the stories we were told ourselves in the same way. It is like the Mexican Day of the Dead.

That’s how the old Decoration Day was described to me. Except the food is reserved for the living.

39 Sol Berdinowitz  Mon, May 27, 2013 11:32:05am
40 Political Atheist  Mon, May 27, 2013 11:35:32am

I guess I talk up these guys a couple times a year, but I just love the Condor Squadron that takes advanced trainer planes from WW2 (AT-6 Texan) aircraft out over the SF valley every memorial day, July 4th, and veterans day. Up to eight of these planes fly in formation all over SoCal.

D_L just caught this a little while ago. Just grabbed the 40D and ran for it.
Image: Donna_AT6CondorSquadLGF.jpg

41 A Mom Anon  Mon, May 27, 2013 11:36:54am

re: #38 wrenchwench

I’m from a teeny little town in SE Ohio, right on the edge of Appalachia. Memorial Day was the day you went to the family grave sites and cleared away old flowers or any debris and placed new flowers or whatever trinkets you wanted to leave. The parades were for those who served in the military and maybe the occasional town VIP, teacher, firefighter or cop who had died during the year. Then it was potluck suppers and later on, fireworks. And also, homemade ice cream where everyone had to take a turn at the handle until the ice cream was ready. Then the ice cream went into the freezer for a couple hours while we went to the high school and watched the fireworks, which were put on by the local volunteer fire dept.

I really miss that stuff. Here we have a parade but it’s become really political and “war of northern aggression” and ack.

42 Occam's Guillotine  Mon, May 27, 2013 11:56:05am

Being in Granbury and Fort Worth last week probably wasn’t good for me. It reminds me of just what a social and cultural shit-hole Lubbock really is, even by Texas standards. Being of “humble origin” (though not noted for humility) I am especially bothered by the abject contempt displayed for wage workers here in Lubbock. Many of our professionals, even low level ones, and manager-owner types seem to believe that working for a wage is a sin and working people deserve to be ridiculed, insulted, and slandered for it. I see people every day who work very hard for a meager living, yet I am surrounded by smug assholes who condemn these people as lazy and stupid, and who aren’t shy about sharing these opinions with those who cannot fight back for fear of losing their jobs. The really unforgivable part, the thing that enrages me, is that most of these aristocrat wannabes are only 2 or 3 generations removed from impoverished sharecroppers themselves. Their predecessors benefited from unions, free education, and egalitarian attitudes that they, themselves, now regard as works of the devil. Most of Lubbock’s arrogant status seekers and fake aristocrats are grifters and deadbeats who stand on the shoulders of more worthy generations and who benefit from a privileged position that is not of their making. They would be helpless, pigs for the slaughter, if we had unions who could provide the real producers with a level playing field.

43 Sol Berdinowitz  Mon, May 27, 2013 12:02:10pm

re: #42 Shiplord Kirel

In their ideal world, all workers in America would line up outside the home depot every morning, while managers would show up with a flat bed truck and announce that they needed three accountants, an IT person, and two marketing reps that day, nine bucks an hour, take it or leave it…

44 Targetpractice  Mon, May 27, 2013 12:06:22pm

re: #43 Sol Berdinowitz

In their ideal world, all workers in America would line up outside the home depot every morning, while managers would show up with a flat bed truck and announce that they needed three accountants, an IT person, and two marketing reps that day, nine bucks an hour, take it or leave it…

“Benefits? If you want benefits, you go work for those hapless fuckers in D.C. I’m offering you a job, money in hand, for the day. Now either get in the truck or get out of the way.”

45 Occam's Guillotine  Mon, May 27, 2013 12:11:52pm

re: #43 Sol Berdinowitz

In their ideal world, all workers in America would line up outside the home depot every morning, while managers would show up with a flat bed truck and announce that they needed three accountants, an IT person, and two marketing reps that day, nine bucks an hour, take it or leave it…

Pretty much it, as their prophet David Barton makes clear in his attacks on the minimum wage. Part of the reason we haven’t had a revolution in this country is that we have not had enough seriously exploited proletarians to make a decent uprising. With wage earners being steadily and relentlessly reduced in status and income, that could change. The exploiters out here in the hinterland understand that, so they have created the “culture war” and various conspiracy theories to divert the ignorant masses from their own exploitation. The constant campaign to undermine public education could also be of help to them, since knowledge has a way of making the peasants think too much.

46 Death Panel Truck  Mon, May 27, 2013 12:12:07pm

re: #3 Absalom, Absalom, Obdicut

No one “wins” the Medal of Honor, or any medal. Medals are awarded to their recipients.

47 Absalom, Absalom, Obdicut  Mon, May 27, 2013 12:13:38pm

re: #46 Death Panel Truck

No one “wins” the Medal of Honor, or any medal. Medals are awarded to their recipients.

Much better verbiage. It’s not a sports contest, after all.

48 Occam's Guillotine  Mon, May 27, 2013 12:19:12pm

re: #43 Sol Berdinowitz

In their ideal world, all workers in America would line up outside the home depot every morning, while managers would show up with a flat bed truck and announce that they needed three accountants, an IT person, and two marketing reps that day, nine bucks an hour, take it or leave it…

But they would be enraged and demand police action if those shlubs outside Home Depot banded together and collectively demanded 20 dollars an hour, take it or leave it. Free enterprise and the advantage of power for me, but not for thee.

49 Targetpractice  Mon, May 27, 2013 12:20:09pm

re: #45 Shiplord Kirel

Pretty much it, as their prophet David Barton makes clear in his attacks on the minimum wage. Part of the reason we haven’t had a revolution in this country is that we have not had enough seriously exploited proletarians to make a decent uprising. With wage earners being steadily and relentlessly reduced in status and income, that could change. The exploiters out here in the hinterland understand that, so they have created the “culture war” and various conspiracy theories to divert the ignorant masses from their own exploitation. The constant campaign to undermine public education could also be of help to them, since knowledge has a way of making the peasants think too much.

All the major revolutions of the past didn’t require an educated populace. Just one educated man with a vision and ambition, though the uneducated populace made it easier for those men to exploit the situation for their own advancement. Generally educated populaces are more likely to try to work through the government that already exists, pushing for reform and for new leadership.

50 Decatur Deb  Mon, May 27, 2013 12:31:00pm

re: #38 wrenchwench

That’s how the old Decoration Day was described to me. Except the food is reserved for the living.

And here, where old times are not forgotten, there is often a separate Decoration Day for the Confederate dead.

51 engineer cat  Mon, May 27, 2013 12:48:15pm

all those who place themselves in danger to preserve our safety and freedom deserve to be honored,

but for me personally this is the theme of my memorial day:

“i joined the french foreign legion to forget”

“what was it that you wanted to forget?”

“um… i forgot”


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Stranger Things Season II Trailer The first trailer for Stranger Things 2 is here. It’s 1984 and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana are still reeling from the horrors of the demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the ...
Thanos
3 days, 20 hours ago
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‘Silent Coup’: Limbaugh Says ?!?! In an impassioned commentary, Rush Limbaugh said he believes the Washington establishment - both Democrats and Republicans - are involved in a "silent coup" against President Trump. Silent coup? Wrong and wrong. As silent as Rachael Maddow, Keith Olberman ...
Unshaken Defiance
1 week ago
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Immigration: Focus LocallyIn these days of Trump and the Republicans attacking everything decent about America, it's too easy to focus on the immediate threat. Trump's Muslim band is back, but everyone is paying attention to the Republicans trying to steal our healthcare. ...
jhncsy
1 week, 1 day ago
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