I said thank you to the veteran I live with today. If I meet others when I am out and about, I shall thank them, too. Silently I pray for the veterans through the years who gave their lives.
James Matlock, country boy out of southeast Missouri, U. S. Army, World War II, sharpshooter and received the Purple Heart with five clusters. Once the Army notified his mother that he was wounded, not expected to live. But he did. He came home with a steel plate in his leg. He came home to take care of his family and friends; people all over the neighborhood turned to Pa Matlock for help. Do you know, none of us knew he had the Purple Heart until his children inherited his medals at the death of Big Mama.
James David Matlock, Pa’s son. U.S. Navy, Vietnam Era. Served on the USS Saratoga and never quite regained his hearing. Have you heard those jets take off?
My father, Harold Douglas Henderson, U.S. Coast Guard. Damage Controlman. He was too young to get into WWII, enlisted at sixteen, supposedly seventeen. He spent many years making certain shipments of ammunition did not blow up on the Mississippi.
My uncle, Billy Henderson, killed in action, World War II. He is only a photograph to me. All four of my grandmother’s sons joined the military.
Thurman Gregory, great uncle, World War I, pilot. Died two days after the war, while performing a celebration air show for generals over France. He is buried there.
Thurman Gregory’s letters from when he joined the Army reveal that very often the government did not pay the soldiers. He wrote home asking for paper and pen and a few dollars, and when he was sent to Europe, he asked for warm sweaters and boots, because the Army did not have enough to supply everyone.
I’m grateful this year to our veterans in a way I have not before experienced. Age, experience, and widening knowledge have made me realize what privileges I have enjoyed by living as I do in the United States of America. There is no other country on earth like this one, or there has not been up until now. We are the only country in the history of the world that has gone in to help rebuild the devastated countries of our enemies after a war. Let us celebrate and honor what is good on this day. Let us see what we have in this country and support it as have our veterans.