Songs of patriotism and words of praise for the nation's fallen heroes were shared during a special Memorial Day remembrance at the county complex auditorium Monday morning.
Sponsored by the American Legion Post #122, the program featured remarks by U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Christopher H. Oliver, son of George and Rebecca Oliver of Smithville.
"The reason we are here today is to honor those fallen service members and to remember the sacrifices they have made for duty, honor, and our country," said Lt. Colonel Oliver. " The service members that we honor today came from all walks of life but they shared several fundamental qualities. They possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty, and integrity. All qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one's self. They were ordinary people who responded in extraordinary ways in difficult times. They rose to our nation's call because they wanted to protect a nation which had given them and us so much," he said.
"Over one million American service members have died in wars that our nation has been involved in since the first Colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775. Many of them died protecting one another. But they served so that we could keep the things that we love the most.. God, Country, and Family. By continuing to remain true to these cherished principles, we honor their sacrifice. Today, service members continue to make the ultimate sacrifice and yet more Americans are still stepping forward to say "I'm ready to serve". They follow in the footsteps of generations of fine Americans before them," continued Lt. Colonel Oliver.
"From those who shivered through winter in Europe or sweated through the humid heat in the pacific in World War II to the extreme cold and summer heat in Korea to the hot, humid, hazy jungles of Vietnam, throughout the cold war, and now to the young men and women patrolling the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan, we remember and honor them all. I'd ask that for the remainder of the day, in whatever activity you choose to do, enjoy them. But remember, they are a privilege bought from the sacrifice of those we honor today," he concluded.
The program included the presentation of colors by members of Boy Scout Pack #35, a performance of the National Anthem by State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, and the crowd joining in the Pledge of Allegiance led by Edward Frazier. Local minister Larry Green read scripture and offered prayers. Songs of praise and patriotism were performed by Representative Weaver, Susan Hinton, and Darrin and Victoria Vincent. Hinton also read a "Tribute to Veterans" authored by Ben Herman. Following the program at the auditorium, the ceremony concluded at the site of the Veterans Memorial monument at the courthouse where a wreath was placed by local veterans and taps were played on trumpets by Emma Rigsby and Larry Briggs.
As a tribute to local hometown heroes, Judy Redmon recently asked for the community to provide her names of family and friends who served our country as members of the military but are now deceased. Redmon honored their memory during Monday's program by reading their names:
Sons of Gold Star Mothers:
Billy Anderson, Army, Afghanistan
Shannon Taylor, Army, Iraq
Billy Adcock, Army, Vietnam
Ronnie Reeder, Army, Vietnam
Others are as follows:
Alvin Burton: Navy, Korean War
James H. Buddy Cook, Army, Germany
Norman Cook, Navy
Jim Roy Tramel, Army, Germany, Korea, Vietnam
John Lee Pack, Army, World War II, 41st Infantry
James Holcomb, Army, Korea
Howard Timmons, Army, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, 30 years Master Sergeant
J.C. Malone, Army, World War II
W.J. (Wise Owl) Hendrixson, Navy, World War II
Virgil Johnson, Army, World War II
Lt. Clyde Thomas, Navy, Korea
Dale Hutchings, Army, Vietnam
Jimmy Ervin, World War II
Dan Fite, Vietnam
Edward Hays, World War II
Richard Lockhart, Army, Korea
Miles D. Shepard, World War II
John E. Turner, Army, Vietnam
Solon Lee Taylor, Army, World War II
Ewin Sandlin, Army, World War II
Everett Herron, Air Force, Korea, Vietnam
Ralph Bradford, Korea
Henry D. Johnson, World War II
Charlie Redmon, World War II
Garland Redmon, World War II
Henry Garth Coffee
Glenn Allen Coffee
Virgil Hill Johnson
Doylan Davis, World War II
Donald Sheets, World War II
T.J. Young, World War II
Carsie L. Craighead, World War II
Kenneth DeShanno, World War II
Jack Estes, World War II
Vernon E. Hyde, World War II
Sam A. Love, World War II
Merle C. Meyers, World War II
Robert Milantoni, Korean
Ozro Franklin, World War II, Korean
William Bethel Golden, Korean
Odene Lawrence, World War II
Jerry Wayne Vanatta, Navy, Vietnam
John G. Magness, U.S. Army, World War II
Carl Cathcart, Navy, Korean
Bobby L. Snyder, Army, Korean
Toy Hendrixson, Army, World War II
Norval Webb, Air Force, Korean
Jvann Walls, Army, World War II
W.J. Tramel, Army, World War II
"Tribute to a Veteran" by Ben Herman
(The Story of a World War II Veteran)
"An old World War II Veteran sat in his rocking chair talking to his grandson. The boy asked, "Grandpa, what were things like when you were young?"
The old man replied, "we were a lot like the young people of today---without all the material things, of course. The boy then asked, "Grandpa, what did you do for entertainment back then?
Well grandson, we played sports in school and sometimes we might go to a movie at a theatre when we could scrape up a modest amount of money. You see, money was so hard to come by because there was a depression across the country. All of the boys of course, liked our little girlfriends. Sometimes, we would just sit around the local country store and listen to the Veterans of the first World War tell their stories. They were our heroes.
Then grandson, in December 1941, we heard the news that an enemy had attacked a Naval base at a place called Pearl Harbor. Most people did not even know where Pearl Harbor was and never even heard the name.
News of the attack spread far and wide across this great country of America. The President of the U.S. Franklin D. Roosevelt would ask Congress for a declaration of war. All able bodied young men would be asked to serve in the military service. Some would be drafted by a draft board, and some would volunteer.
All the seniors on our high school basketball team volunteered the very next day. There was Bill, Fred, Tom, Harry, John, Robert, and me, of course. Bill and John never came back from the war. They were considered heroes in the community. Their pictures were kept in the high school trophy case for many years.
As the young boy listened to the old veteran talk, he asked, "Will I ever be in a war?"
Every soldier hopes his war will be the last, but the Bible says there will be wars and rumors of war forever. The young boy then asked, "Was World War II the last war that produced Heroes. "Oh no, son, there were heroes in the snowy hills of Korea, and in the steamy jungles of Vietnam, and there are the heroes of the desert wars of the middle east, and heroes of the so-called Cold War.
Then the grandson asked, "Grandpa, where are your friends now?"
"Well son, most of my old friends have passed away except Fred.". I heard he was in a nursing home down in Alabama near where his daughter lives. Then the old man told the boy to hand him his walking stick. "Help me get up and I will show you some pictures of me and my friends when we were young and looking forward to the future.
As the old man slowly ambled over to the photo album, the boy heard him say quietly, "God bless the men and women in uniform wherever they may be, and God, Bless America."
***About the Speaker Lt. Colonel Christopher H. Oliver:
Oliver is the son of George (career U.S. Army Force officer), and Rebecca (retired school teacher). He was born in Urbana, Illinois.
Oliver graduated from St. Gregory College Preparatory School in Tucson, Arizona in 1989. He received a BA degree in Political Science from Texas A&M in 1993, commissioned as a Second Lt. via the Platoon Leader's Class.
As part of his career with the U.S. Marine Corps, Lt. Colonel Oliver assumed command of HMG-362 in April, 2011 and during February, 2012, the Ugly Angles, the last CH53D squadron in the Marine Corps, deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 12.1 and conducted combat flight operations in support of RC Southwest in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
In 2013, Lt. Colonel Oliver reported for duty as a student at National War College in Washington, D.C. where he is working toward a Master's Degree in National Security Strategy.
Lt. Colonel Oliver has flown over 2,500 mishap free flight hours. He possesses all flight leadership designations and mission qualifications in the CH-53D/E aircraft. His personal decorations include: Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with Strike/Flight Numeral 5, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Gold Star in Lieu of Fourth Award, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Air Force Achievement Medal.
Lt. Colonel Oliver is married to the former Stephanie Skierkowski of Kailua, Hawaii and they have four children, 19 year old Makena, 12 year old Piper, 10 year old Houston, and 7 year old Tate.