Enlisted Spouses Club has on-post ceremony
Last Thursday, members and guests of the Fort Stewart Enlisted Spouses’ Club braved the rain and met at the Desert Shield/Desert Storm Monument to remember those soldiers listed on the memorial who made sacrifices for their country.
The ceremony included a prayer led by Chaplin Ralston, the placing of a wreath by club president Frankie Andrews and vice president Renee Tokach, and a reading of the names of those listed on the monument by Maggie Roberts.
The Desert Shield/Desert Storm monument was erected in 1991 by the Fort Stewart Enlisted Spouses’ Club. It was the first of its kind erected in the United States and was dedicated by Gen. Barry McCaffrey when he and the 24th Infantry Division returned from the war.
With a frail hand, World War II veteran Jack White gripped a white cap over his chest during Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony at the Fred L. Ginter American Legion Post in Hinesville.
A black and white emblem sewn on his cap signifies the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, during which four U.S. battleships sank and scores of young American sailors lost their lives. White was stationed at the Hawaiian naval base and remembers the perilous day well.
“It was hell,” White said after two speakers addressed the crowd gathered at the post. “[Memorial Day] means a lot. Like the man said, all gave some and some gave all.”
Using a black cane to support his 88-year-old frame, White stood quietly in the gathering hall during the legion’s annual observance, where he and countless other veterans packed the room to pay tribute to the nation’s fallen soldiers.
"Let us never fail to acknowledge the role of our men and women in uniform who throughout the history of our great nation have never shied away from the task of confronting such tyrants and enemies of freedom and liberty,” said Col. Lou Lartigue, commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, as he addressed the crowd.
The sounds of French horns from the 3rd Infantry Division’s band filled the air as veterans from the wars of World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom observed a moment of silence.
Graydon “Smokie” Martin, 83, slowly lifted himself from his wheelchair for the second time during the ceremony. He had clambered to his feet earlier when veteran Paul Spence, who acted as the master of ceremonies, called for the veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam to rise.
Martin can still account for the friends he lost during the 26 years, nine months and five days he served as a soldier in the Army.
“I have seen a lot of ’em pass me by,” the New York Native said, “but I’m the type that it doesn’t matter where I’ve been, what I’ve done or what I’ve seen. I thank the good Lord.”
After all, he said, serving his country was “a unique opportunity” — one every American should be grateful and thankful for.
Lartigue, who sat listening to Martin’s war stories after the event, agreed.
“[People] should not have to pass by a military installation, see something on TV, or have a cemetery nearby to know that every day a portion of our population volunteers to sacrifice to give us our freedoms …”