Twenty-One Guns Ain’t Near Enough!

Published: Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 10:34 AM.

            It was the only war related speech Dad ever gave. I think my youth and utter stupidity was all that kept me from being killed right there on the front porch! And, you’d better believe, I got the message loud and clear; a message of love, sacrifice and duty that knows no bounds or limits.   

            By the ninth grade, I noticed half of the World War I guys that came out to celebrate the 11th with us were gone. I remembered Miss Belle telling us that every World War I veteran in town always participated in the event. What was left of them still fired the cannon and stepped back as spritely as ever.

            I took notice for the first time of those ordinary men around town. Come Fourth of July at the parade, when our small high school band struck up The National Anthem, those men came to a ram rod straight position. Their chins were up. Their moist eyes fixed on the American flag. Undoubtedly, they were transported to another place and another time. And I can only imagine the horrors of war and the remembrances that must be streaming across their collective minds……..especially of the ones they personally knew that didn’t come back.

            Ordinary men, I don’t think so!

            We’ve sent the same caliber of people, including David Mark, to Viet Nam. We have them now in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan.

            By November 11th, 1964, my senior year in high school, there were only four World War I veterans left. One was in a wheel chair. It had snowed and those men were standing in the freezing temperature to fire that old cannon. As the band hit the first note, the man in the wheel chair struggled to his feet. His lifelong friends got him erect. Everyone stood for the presentation of the colors!

            That was the day I shed my first tears for an American veteran. 

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