Holiday Theme

Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 10:10 AM.

Over the years, I have also had the honor of writing about Major Buck Watford, who has spent four years since 9/11 in service to his country, leaving behind a wife and two, at the time, small children, because that is what you do when you sign up to serve in uniform.

The following “Motivational Analysis” was written by Lt. Colonel Richard T. Tallman and is contained within the file of Clifford S. Sims’ Congressional Medal of Honor file. Sims was awarded the Medal of Honor after throwing himself on a grenade to save his men in a far-off province in Vietnam.

He is the only man from Gulf County so awarded and if it does not capture what we should remember this weekend it is hard to know what would.

“Staff Sergeant Sims was not a man to act rashly; he made decisions with the firm belief that he was right, and he made them without counting the cost to himself. He was intensely loyal to his men, and never put his own interests above theirs. Just five days before he died he was assigned the task of securing an LZ during heavy fighting. He assured that his men were properly positioned and behind suitable cover. And he made certain that the wounded were expeditiously evacuated. Yet he never considered cover for himself during a full six hour period during which he was under a harassing sniper fire. His devotion was to his duty and to his men. And so I believe, as he never acted otherwise that I was aware of, did he consider the safety of his men on 21 February, fully aware of the sacrifice he was making, yet more poignantly concerned for the fate of his men were he to choose any other course. In simple fact, Staff Sergeant Sims knowingly and willingly laid down his life so that his comrades might live.”

Even having read that passage dozens of times, having read the testimony that was submitted recommending Sims – this man who rose from an impoverished, segregated life to marry, have a child and go off to war and not return due to his sense of honor and duty – for the Medal of Honor, trying to understand his sacrifice under fire still clutches the throat.

And particularly in this day and age when too much of what we read, hear and experience derives from the impacts of men and women, at home and throughout the country, who carry with them a false sense of entitlement, that life owes them, that their community owes them.

Sims’ life and his sense of patriotism and courage shames them all and is a lesson all youngsters should be taught and understand, as some will walk the stage for graduation this weekend.

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