By LARRY M. JONES
Last November, I felt honored to be asked to speak at the Veterans Day ceremony held in Weatherford. This event is held annually here to honor Parker County residents who served in our nation’s Armed Forces. Brian Smith, a reporter for the Weatherford Democrat, covered the event, and he highlighted a quote I used in my remarks: “All gave some; some gave all.”
At the Veterans Day gathering I used this anonymous quote to point out that every veteran gave a portion of his or her life in the service of our country. On Monday we observe Memorial Day, a day to honor those who gave all.
I would dare say that most Americans today cannot name even one personal acquaintance that lost his or her life serving in the Armed Forces. Because such a small percentage of the American population in recent decades has served in the military, it is unlikely that the ultimate sacrifice by so few would be common knowledge to the average citizen. World War II affected almost everyone in some way whether through military service, defense manufacturing, production of war materials or sacrifice due to commodity rationing. Everyone knew of acquaintances, friends or family who lost their lives during the war. Every grunt who lugged a Garand rifle in Korea, those who packed an M-16 through the steamy rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam, and those who flew off Yankee Station or some other God-forsaken air base knew of many friends they will never see again. The same can be said for those who have endured over a decade embroiled in a seemingly endless and bloody struggle in the Middle East.
With just 6.5 percent of all Texans having ever served in the military, and with so few of those ever placed in harm’s way, it is little wonder that few among us can put a face on any of the tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen who died in the service of our country. For the average citizen, Memorial Day is merely another three-day weekend during which we go shopping during great sales on furniture and appliances, go to the lake picnicking and boating, or just relax over the backyard barbecue grill enjoying a few cool drinks with family and friends.
Many courageous and patriotic young men and women in the prime of their lives made the greatest sacrifice so we can enjoy this day off from work. To honor the ultimate price they paid for our freedoms, we owe it to their memory to make sure their sacrifice is not taken for granted. We must teach our younger generations that there are values and principles greater than appeasement of personal desires. Having the latest iPhone, fancy car wheels, or designer clothes pales in comparison to possession of honor, patriotism, courage and service above self.
This Memorial Day, I will take my grandchildren and other children in the neighborhood to the Jones Cemetery and others where we will place flags on the graves of veterans. Ironically, the first grave in the Jones Cemetery was of a great-great uncle who died during service in the Confederate army. His sacrifice as well as that of thousands before and after his death in 1863 must never be forgotten.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.