Dr. Bill Atwood

Remembering veterans

This past week I was in the Orange County area helping dear friends move out of their house of 45 years into a nearby condo as they are in the process of downsizing. Amongst the many items that I helped wrap up and pack into boxes for the move were some photographs that gave me pause. The images on two of those photographs really affected me and brought tears to my eyes. They are too graphic to print in the Sierra Star so I must describe them to my readers.

One showed a Marine standing over dead Marines on the island of Iwo Jima. There were many dead and the rest of the island was as bleak as could be. My father fought in that battle and lost many friends who were brothers in arms. He always said that the real heroes of Iwo Jima were the men who died there. The anguish on the lone Marine’s face standing and looking at the carnage said so much and my words pale by comparison. Thousands died and many thousands more were injured in those days of the battle.

The other photograph said so much as well. Fallen warriors in the foreground and the image of a rifle sticking into the soil of Normandy with a fallen G.I.’s helmet on the butt of the rifle showed where one of the thousands of heroes was buried. Ten thousand died on D-Day as the Allied Forces took the beaches and began the liberation of France and the rest of Europe. Ten Thousand.

Those two pictures are graphic depictions of the horrors of war but also serve as a great reminder to me of the sacrifice made by those brave warriors during WWII to ensure that I don’t speak Japanese or German as my native language.

This weekend is the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and car dealers and retailers will try to entice us to buy during the holiday sales. Vacationers will enjoy the three day weekend and the vast majority of us will enjoy the good times with friends or family. It is interesting that while those who died and sacrificed won’t be able to enjoy such pleasures; the activities that we will enjoy are possible in a country that is free and that enjoys liberty because of their sacrifice.

On the other hand, we owe those who have been injured in battle or those who have died in battle some remembrance this weekend and especially on Monday, which is Memorial Day.

There will be a service in the Little Church on the Hill in the Cemetery in the center of Oakhurst in the morning. There will be prayers and songs, and remembrances of the fallen as well as some inspiring words. I encourage you to attend and to bring the children in your life to this service to honor those who sacrificed so much.

More than 1 million veterans died in the course of a battle since the first skirmish at Lexington and Concord. Other names were added to that list of honor this month in the Middle East. Many millions more came home blind, deaf, without limbs, burned, scarred, or tormented by the effects of PTSD. They live daily with their sacrifice.

Each generation must send its heroes into harm’s way to buy our freedom for the next generation because there are despots around the world and terrorists who want to kill us and destroy our way of life. Make no mistake about it; there are people around the world who hate the United States and our prosperity. The veterans have always answered the call to stand the watch. In November we will honor all the veterans who have ever served in the military. On Monday we will take the time to honor those who died in combat with the lowering of Old Glory to half mast from dawn until noon. At noon we will quickly hoist the colors to the top of the flagpole in honor of those wounded in battle. At dusk we will lower the flag and fold her reverently into the customary triangular shape and place her into a safe location until she is unfurled again.

This Monday, please be sure to take the time to utter a few words of thanks to the wounded and fallen and be sure to thank any veterans in your life or path.

When I close my eyes and the images of those to very graphic photographs come to my mind, they will be a reminder that those two photos are just a couple of images from the millions of sacrifices made on behalf of freedom loving people around this nation and the globe.

Lest we never forget.

Thank you, veterans. God Bless you.