Welcome to the home page of the Bradley T. Arms Detachment.  Our detachment, #1256, is headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia where we provide an opportunity for active and inactive Marines from all parts of central Virginia to meet, participate in community service projects, and have some fun in the process.  We are always ready to add more Marines to our detachment so check out our membership page, join us at a meeting and come on board.  

And while you are at it, take a look at a brief introduction video to meet some of our members and see some of our activities.  Or, just use the menu at the top to look around our site.

Semper Fi


MAY 26, 2014

Following are remarks delivered by Colonel James OKelly, USMC (Ret.), a member of this detachment on Memorial Day, 2013:

Over the last few days I have asked many people if they knew the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  Some knew but many did not.

On Memorial Day we remember those who died for us.  On Veterans Day we honor those who survived and are with us.

Since the opening salvos of the American revolution, nearly 1.2 million American patriots have died in defense of liberty.  Additionally, 1.4 million have been wounded in combat, and tens of millions have served honorably, surviving without  physical wounds.  These numbers, of course, offer no reckoning of the inestimable value of their service or the sacrifices borne by their families, but we do know that the value of liberty extended to us is priceless.

I recently read an article that said “history gives us a record of perspective, context, and consequences that can help us make wise choices as we learn from both the successes and failures of those who have gone before us…..the question is whether we will learn from the lessons of the past or repeat the mistakes of those who came before us.”  I believe that “those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it”….and I also believe that those who revise history for their own political gain or perspective are also doomed to repeat it.

With that as background we have come here on this Memorial Day 2013 to honor and remember those of our fellow countrymen and women who have died in war.

When I grew up in the mountains of western North Carolina in the late 1940s and 1950s we observed “Decoration Day” and we would literally decorate the graves of men who had died in the wars from the civil war forward.  Researching the history and traditions of this national holiday has been very interesting to me and I would like to briefly share some things I found with you.

Decoration Day originated three years after the end of the American Civil War in 1868 to commemorate the fallen soldiers of that terrible war.  There are various dates and numerous states that claim to have had the first event but that does not seem as important as the fact that everyone wanted to pay tribute to those who died.  The date of May 30 was chosen, it is believed, because flowers would be in bloom all over the country at that time.

It was not until after WW I that the day was expanded to honor those who died in all of Americas wars.  Due to the extent of the ground disturbance in the warfare of World War I corn poppies began blooming in between the trench lines and no-man’s land on the Western Front and especially in the Flanders fields where at the battle of the Somme over one million men died.  As a result during the 20th century the wearing of a poppy at or before “Remembrance Day” each year became an established custom in most western countries to remember their fallen soldiers.

The preferred name for the holiday gradually changed from “Decoration Day” to “Memorial Day” after World War II and was not declared the official name  by federal law until 1967.  On 28 June 1968 congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill which moved four holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three day weekend.  The VFW stated in a speech in 2002 that “changing the date merely to create a three day weekend has undermined the very meaning of the day.  No doubt this has contributed a lot to the general public’s nonchalant observing of Memorial Day.”

To ensure the sacrifices of America’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000 congress passed “the National Moment of Remembrance Act” to encourage people to give something back to their country which provides them so much freedom and opportunity.  The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 pm local time on Memorial Day for a moment of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

Death, sacrifice, and rebirth are the themes of Memorial Day.  I am reminded of the statement that says “for those who have fought for it freedom has a sweetness the protected will never know.”  and the old Russian proverb sums things up this way “eternal peace lasts until the next war.” 

So to bring this all into a local perspective let me briefly tell you the story of one of Charlottesville’s own sons and his family who made the ultimate sacrifice for us all.  Lance Corporal Thomas Dennison Grinnell III was a Marine radio operator with the 26th Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division in Vietnam in 1965 and 1966.  I have chosen to tell you about him and his family because their story is indicative of an entire family’s ultimate sacrifice for this country.  Lance Corporal Grinnell was born 6 October 1945 and attended Holy Comforter School and Lane High School before enlisting  in the United States Marine Corps in March 1964.  My wife, Jan, and I visited his gravesite in Monticello Memory Gardens recently and found him buried between his mother and father.  His father was a Marine pilot in WW II and Korea and was killed in action in 1952.  We also found another nearby Grinnell gravesite for his uncle who was a Marine killed in action in World War II.  Lance Corporal Grinnell was killed by a landmine (we now call them IEDS) near Danang, Vietnam on 3 September 1966 thirteen days before his thirteen month tour of duty would have been completed.  Joining the Marines and serving their country was an honor and a family tradition for the Grinnell family.  Rest in peace Lance Corporal Grinnell and your father and your uncle and thank you for your service to our country and our Corps.

Last year and again this year I spoke at the rededication of the Dogwood Vietnam Memorial (the oldest Vietnam Memorial in America) in Mcintyre Park.  I tried to put a name, a story, and a picture together for eight of the twenty-three men memorialized there.  I encourage each of you to go there or to any of our local cemeteries and visit some of our fallen heroes like Lance Corporal Grinnell or Lance Corporal Howell Blakely from Free Union or First Lieutenant Charles Butler or Warrant Officer Robert Marshall from Charlottesville and thank them personally for their sacrifice for you.

Let me close by reciting a short anonymous poem that was found on a sentry box on Gibraltar after World War I in 1919:

“God and the soldier all men adore

In times of trouble and then no more

For when the war is over and all things are righted

God is forgotten and the old soldier slighted”

Let us make sure that this never happens to our fellow Americans who gave their lives to protect us and our freedoms.

Thank you for the privilege of speaking with you and God bless America and America’s fallen heroes.

Once A Marine, Always A Marine