Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: Harrisburg mayoral nominee Eric Papenfuse; What Memorial Day means to combat vets

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | May 21, 2013 1:10 PM
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Radio Smart Talk for Wednesday, May 22:

It started as Decoration Day after the Civil War.  The grave sites of Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the conflict were decorated in patriotic themes by survivors.

After the turn of the century, May 30th became known as Memorial Day -- a day to honor members of the armed forces who had given their lives in service to their country.  The holiday was moved to the fourth Monday in May in 1971 and became a national holiday, meaning most Americans had the day off from work.  With that day off, Memorial Day got the title of the unofficial start of the summer season.  Picnics and parades were part of most Americans' Memorial Day.


But for the millions of American men and women who served in the armed forces and especially those who saw combat, Memorial Day has a much different meaning.

On Wednesday's Radio Smart Talk, we'll hear from three combat veterans, who will tell their stories and describe what Memorial Day is to them.

Joining us will be World War II veteran Gene Wentz, retired Maj. Gen. Walter Stewart Jr. who served in Vietnam, and Lt. Col. Eric Zimmerman, a veteran of the war in Iraq.

Wentz son-in-law Dr. Daniel Felix, has written a book about Wentz' experiences.  It's called A Scout for E Company: 1944, The Story of PFC Gene Wentz (pictured right).

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Lt. Col. Eric Zimmerman & Maj. General Walter Stewart


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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-05-22 09:00

    Email from Jack:

    what Memorial Day means to me:

    It's NOT the beginning of the summer, it's significantly more than that. Most people who are not combat veterans only celebrate Memorial Day one time a year, but for combat veterans like myself it's almost a daily remembrance of the buddies we left behind.

    I tend to get angry when most Americans forget what Memorial Day is really about and just think of it as just another good weekend off to have parties.

    VietNam, '71-72, Northern I Corp
    Door Gunner and Crew Chief on a slick, Air Asset for MACV-SOG, CCN (Special Operations)

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-05-22 09:01

    Follow up comment from Jack:


    Thanks for reading my email. I Corp, pronounced "Eye Core", it was the Northern part of the VietNam. I was just a few miles South of the DMZ.

    MACV-SOG ( MAC Vee SOG ) was a operation run by the CIA in which mostly Green Berets and indigenous personnel would run special operations deep into Indian country. They were essentially the forerunners of Delta Force.


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