Wednesday, November 11, 2015


This orchestra is made up of musicians from the U.S. military, and they're playing probably the best "Unchained Melody" instrumental you'll hear anywhere.


As we celebrate Veterans Day I also thought it would be a good idea to remind ourselves of people who actually went to war when they didn't have to, and perished in the process.

Unlike our modern day cowardly politicians, and blow hard media pundits who cheer every war opportunity without sacrificing anything, these are Americans who had fame and fortune but also believed they should contribute more to the cause. Not one of the three individuals below were drafted or forced to abandon the charmed and comfortable lifestyles that would be part of their future (regular readers will recognize these stories from previous posts).

Glenn Miller was a band leader in the swing era. His career was beginning to sky rocket with still recognizable hits like "In the Mood" and "Moonlight Serenade." In 1942, while making between $15,000 and $20,000 per week (roughly between $200,000 and $300,000 today), Miller decided to join the war effort. At 38 he was too old to be drafted, and was initially told by the Navy that they did not need his services. He convinced the U.S. Army that they could use him to help "modernize" their music, which allowed him to serve by entertaining the allied troops.

Miller and his 50-piece band played across Europe, and perished on December 15, 1944 while crossing the English Channel to play in Paris. Glenn Miller is still listed as Missing In Action.

Pat Tillman was a football player in his prime playing for the Phoenix Cardinals in the late 1990s. After the 9/11 attacks Tillman left a lucrative career in the National Football League to enlist in the U.S. Army at the age of 25. At one point Tillman turned down a multi-year $9 million contract from the St. Louis Rams because of the loyalty he felt towards the Cardinals. Before enlisting in the U.S. Army Tillman also turned down a 3-year $3.6 million contract offer from the Cardinals.

Tillman joined the Army Rangers and died in the mountains of Afghanistan under circumstances - first called an ambush, and later labeled as "friendly fire" - that remains a mystery for many today.

The Joseph Kennedy, Jr. story is a unique one because of his family connections and wealth. His father made a name for himself on Wall Street, and as Franklin D. Roosevelt's Ambassador to Britain. His younger brother, John F. Kennedy, would become the 35th President of the United States.

A graduate of Harvard, Kennedy studied for a year at the London School of Economics before attending Harvard Law School. A delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1940, Kennedy was already fabulously rich as a young man because his father, as the story goes, gifted each of his kids $1 million (about $17 million today) so they could make their own way in life, while telling the family to go to hell if they wanted.

Kennedy voluntarily left Harvard before finishing his final year in law school to join the U.S. Navy in 1942. There he completed 25 combat missions, and volunteered for Operation Aphrodite weeks before his tour was up. He died on a mission over England.

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- Mark