The skeptics and the cynics were questioning the sacrifice made in the war. They asked the veteran and hero, "What did it get you?" and "What was there in it for you?". To which he replied of that kind, "The thing they forget is that liberty and freedom and democracy are so very precious that you do not fight to win them once and stop. Liberty and freedom and democracy are prizes awarded only to those peoples who fight to win them and then keep fighting eternally to hold them."
This could be today. Could've been after the Gulf War. Could've been after Vietnam or Korea. But this was after the Great War; WWI. This was veteran was Sergeant York, the most highly decorated veteran of WWI. If you don't know his story, there is a wonderful old movie you can rent or catch on satellite that tells his tale.
In his address on Armistice Day, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt recounts this story and adds his own response, "If our armies of 1917 and 1918 had lost there would not have been a man or woman in America who would have wondered why the war was fought. The reasons would have faced us everywhere. We would have known why liberty is worth defending as those alone whose liberty is lost can know it. We would have known why tyranny is worth defeating as only those whom tyrants rule can know."
Daddy Jess (mother's father) fought in the Great War. Him and Mama Ruth always called it Armistice Day. Mother too, half the time, rather than Veteran's Day. Jesse Oah Allbritton went on to be father to four girls, through the great depression and beyond. He was about the first auto mechanic around the little towns of S.E. Texas. Had to drive himself to San Antonio, then the closest V. A. hospital, when his appendix was on the verge of bursting. He loved dominoes and played them well. When he shaved, he'd try to swipe any passing grandkids with his foamy shaving brush. Was known to get a thrill out of holding onto a car battery and shock those who passed close by.
I grew up hearing Mama sing to me. Often she'd sing one was reminiscent of those by gone days, "He was just a long tall country gent, from a way out west where the hop toads wink. Stood six feet two in his stocking feet and he kept a getting thinner the more he ate. But he was brave as he was thin when the war broke out he joined right in, unhitched his plow, put the mule away and the old folks heard him say 'Goodbye maw! Goodbye paw!' Goodbye mule with the old hee-haw, may not know what the war's about, but I bet by gosh I'll soon find out. And oh, my sweetheart, don't you fear! I'll bring you a king for a souvenir. I'll get you a Turk and a kaiser too, and that's about all one fellow can do.'" It's one I sing to my kids.
Right after Halloween, seems everyone jumped straight to Thanksgiving or Christmas in their thoughts. Their talk is of thanksgiving plans and menus. Their screen savers and such are of that same theme. Of course, the local schools will have a program to honor veterans. And many churches will offer something patriotic tomorrow. I mean, where is the personal reflection and gratitude for what we have, how we live? Well, this is my salute to the many who have and do defend me and my home. Protects my liberties.
- My own father, Clayon Stutts, who served in WWII as an infantry man. He served in the nitty gritty of the European theatre.
- His brother, Hightower Stutts who I believe was a Navy cook.
- Uncle Lenox Hawthorne, married to mother's sister, who served, obviously in the pacific as he saw the crater where the bomb was dropped.
- Uncle Rene Lemons, married to another of my mama's sisters, who also served and came back home with a love and appreciation of India and her peoples.
- My brother-in-law, Edward Puntes, who served in the army and fortunately did not have to see combat.
- My cousin, Buzzy Lemons, who did see combat in Vietnam.
- My second cousin, Jason Hawthorne, who served as a Navy Seal.
- My stepfather, Polk Hawthorne, who returned from WWII vowing to never eat spam again.
- The many men I have been privilege to work with, worship with, have as neighbors and know as friends who served.
All those currently serving or recently serving that I have the pleasure to know of through J-land, or personally.
Veterans deserve our respect not just for the wars they fought and the price they paid defending us. They deserve our respect for the way they come back and live! For the excellent citizens they make. One quarter of them have bachelor's degrees, and 90% have completed high school. Only 5.9% of them live in poverty, as apposed to non veterans which is 12.3%. There are over 11 million of them in the labor force. In the last presidential election 3/4's of veterans voted! ............... If you do nothing else to reflect and remember, please read President Roosevelt's Address at Arlington in 1941. My thanks to Dover Publishing and Emma for the graphics. To the Census Bureau for the statistics.