Monday is a time of remembrance for fallen soldiers who helped defend our country and honor for veterans who are still with us.
Whether they died in battle or of old age, or they are still giving citizens of the United States, they all should be honored and remembered for the sacrifices they gave — being away from their families, being in the face of danger, taking a break from their schooling, from their ongoing lives to protect and defend the country for the rest of us.
The Elkin High School JROTC is inviting all veterans in the area to its annual Veterans Day assembly Friday at 8:30 a.m. in the school’s auditorium.
Growing up, I heard lots of stories about war. My grandfather served in the Army during World War II, and I had a great-grandfather who was in the Marine Corps and a great-uncle who was a soldier, not sure which branch, during World War I.
While my great-grandfather and my great-uncle were both alive still when I was very young, I don’t remember any stories of military actions from them, but when we were going through my grandparents’ things after they died, we found various military pins and metals from the “greats” and my grandfather.
My grandfather served as a radio man, but came very close to action a couple of times. He talked about seeing concentration camps and going to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest after it had been bombed.
One of the stories he told was of a night so dark and foggy that the caravan of trucks he was with had to tie one truck to the next so they could follow where they should be going. He said they were on a steep cliff, and they couldn’t see anything. And the truck in the front of the caravan nearly slid off the cliff, which of course would have taken the rest with it since they were all connected.
He was in the line of fire on occasion, while trying to get transmissions out.
But he was one of the blessed ones. He came home and had a family, went to college and spent more than 50 years in the ministry.
I always found it fascinating how things happen. One of my grandmother’s boy friends didn’t have the same fate. He was killed in action and is buried in the same cemetery where my grandmother and grandfather are, at Advent Moravian Church in Winston-Salem.
After my grandfather died, my grandmother told me that she and this other boy had become very close friends. I always wonder if he would have ended up as my grandfather instead, if he hadn’t been killed in action.
But I truly believe things happen for a reason — no matter how good or how bad — and that there is a reason my grandmother married my grandfather, rather than this other boy. And that’s what he was, a young man, barely older than this year’s high school seniors … an adult, but in many ways, still a boy, with so much life that could have come after the war.
So as Monday approaches, take time to remember the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice in battle, the ones who were able to come home but have since passed on, and most especially, be sure to say thank you to the ones who are still with us — both young and old — who have taken time out of their lives to make sure we are protected and defended.
It is thanks to them that we had a chance to vote Tuesday in area elections, that we have the right to voice our opinions on politics and religion and other topics and have rights that so many others do not. They have defended our country against those who sought to threaten our freedoms, our way of life.
So from me — and the rest of the staff at The Yadkin Ripple — to those veterans and fallen soldiers … Thank you.
Wendy Byerly Wood is the content manager of The Elkin Tribune and The Yadkin Ripple and editor of The Pilot. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 835-1513.