History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
“Veterans Among Us”
This article is dedicated to Veterans Memorial Day. I was born in 1947, a baby boomer. “Baby Boomers”, for the most part, were a product of the World War II veterans that had returned home after the war, or anyone born after 1945. So, it wasn’t until I was almost five years old that I began to comprehend somewhat about war. I would overhear my Daddy and his friends talking about a place called Korea, and if it was mentioned at the dinner table, my momma would start nervously fingering the ends of her well-worn apron. It wasn’t until later years that I learned that her nephew had persuaded his mother into signing his enlistment papers, but she wasn’t truthful about his age. He was not 17 but 15, and at the age 16, was in the thick of combat in Korea. In the succeeding years and in adult life, I began to realize that many or most of my neighbors, relatives, and church members were WWI, WWII, or Korean veterans.
The following is a sample list of veterans. Some are local, others are listed from information provided by USMC Chaplin Denis O’Brien. I will not list names since I don’t have permission from individuals or families to do so.
- One of my church members, who in the trench warfare of WWI, ripped off his black uniform buttons because he thought they were illuminating his position at night. He came home shell-shocked but received no counseling, and dealt with it the rest of his life as best he could. Today it is known as PTSD. (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). In America we lose 22 veterans a day to suicide.
- Twenty-five years ago it was the aggravatingly slow old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket who in WWII had helped liberate a Nazi death camp and now wishes his wife was still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
- He is another church member who falsified his age and went to WWII at the age of fourteen. My research indicates that he was the youngest Tennessee Veteran of that war.
- Sixty seven years ago it was a teenage high school dropout who subsequently began to have problems with law enforcement officials. By the age of seventeen, he was in court with the judge offering him a choice of jail or military service. His momma signed his papers and was sent to Korea where his overgrown juvenile behavior was outweighed a hundred times on the cosmic scale by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th
- He is a best friend and neighbor who in high school was not a star athlete or a member of the academic honor court. Yet, in the misty steamy terrain of the A Shau Valley, this reluctant hero invoked the scripture of John 15:13 by willing to lay down his life for his friends, thus receiving our nation’s 3rd highest award. He would become Sequatchie County High School’s highest decorated Vietnam Veteran.
- She is the surgical nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in DaNang.
- He is a Tennessee Nation Guardsman who spent 10 months in Saudia Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the M-1 tanks didn’t run out of fuel.
- Or an IED disposal expert in Afghanistan who several years ago was disposing of running backs as a linebacker on the high school football team.
These are just a few of the “Veterans among us”. Some volunteered, many were drafted, but did their duty anyway in the service of their country. These veterans are ordinary and yet extraordinary human beings, individuals who offered some of their life’s most vital years and sacrificed their ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs. So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say “Thank you”. That’s all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than medals. Two little words mean a lot.
Last Month’s Question: Where did Francis Ashbury do most of his reading and rehearsing of his sermons? In the saddle of his horse
Next Month’s question: What military training does our current Pastor Jared Wood have?