James Martin Davis knew combat. He knew, from his deep experience in Vietnam in the late ’60s, about the hardship, the camaraderie, the courage.
For four decades, Davis wrote about those experiences in an annual Memorial Day essay for The World-Herald. His writings stirred some of the strongest emotions — and appreciative responses — from readers of anything that has appeared in our opinion pages.
Readers responded so strongly because of the lessons Davis pointed to from military service. He didn’t describe scenes of war in a sensationalized way. He pulled the reader intensely into the immediacy of the battlefield experience, yes. But he did so not to romanticize the tumult and danger but, instead, to point to a deeper meaning — to explain the nature of wartime brotherhood, dedication and heroism.
He wrote often of fallen comrades. His compelling prose helped readers gain a sense of those long-ago comrades as real people — and to feel the immensity of their loss.
It’s fitting, though heartbreaking, that our community says farewell to this colorful local attorney known for his Memorial Day writings at the same time Omahans show reverence to Daegan Page, the Marine corporal killed in Afghanistan by terrorists during the withdrawal.
The flags flying along Abbott Drive and people lining the streets will express our gratitude for the young Marine’s dedication and our community’s sympathy to his family.
It’s appropriate and important to show such respect and extend such understanding. That, after all, is what James Martin Davis spent four decades explaining to us.
The collection of James Martin Davis's Memorial Day essays, "Memorial Day: Our Nation's Time to Remember," can be purchased at Barnes & Noble, The Bookworm and Next Chapter Books. It also can be purchased online at owhstore.com.