The ceremony was well planned and executed. The ROTC cadets’ performance was worthy of a well trained military unit. The singers, musicians and speakers were all well prepared and did a fantastic job. The main speaker, Sheriff Terry Langley, paid special tribute to veterans in his speech when he noted that veterans are a desirable choice for law enforcement. He noted that veterans have a sense of discipline and determination that contributes much toward the traits needed to be a good deputy.
After the ceremony had ended, it was a time to meet and talk with the other vets of the area, and for us a time to get in a few jabs at our fellow veterans who had served in other branches of the military. I was very happy to see Clyde West, my first “Army buddy” there. He and I had met in 1971 on the bus going from Carrollton to Atlanta to be sworn in. From there we both went to Ft. Knox for basic, then Ft. Polk for infantry training.
We talked for a while, and then got on the subject of veterans, and how fast we are loosing members of the “Greatest Generation” these days. It’s time to do some research. I found eye-opening information that has to be shared, beginning with the Civil War, or as those of us in the South call it, “The War of Northern Aggression,” and going to Desert Storm.
Last surviving veteran of the Civil War:
• Union Army – Albert Woolson, died 1956
• Confederate Army – Pleasant Crump, died 1951
Last surviving veteran of WWI:
• Frank Buckles, died 2011
Surviving wartime veterans, estimated, as of 2012:
• World War II – 1.5 million (passing at the rate of 1 veteran every 90 seconds)
• Korean War – 2.3 million
• Vietnam War – 7.4 million
• Desert Storm – 2.2 million
• Total number of all surviving veterans – 22.2 million
These numbers show that we as a country are losing a national resource at an alarming rate. It takes a person to make a number on a report. Remove a number and you remove a person.
Think about how much history is being lost with the passing of each person. We have people who have “walked the walk” to keep us in a free nation. People who might not have seen the movie, but were in the real deal that the movie was made about. In other words, the people for whom we have a holiday called Veterans Day.
The fact is, a lot of archival combat footage is and has been used in the making of movies. If you look closely, you might see your dad, grandpa, uncle, neighbor, in a beach landing, on a ship, on an aircrew, or in a rice paddy. They were not making a movie at the time, they were trying to stay alive and get home to a free nation.
Remember that Veterans Day is not just a reason to make a speech and wear your flag pin, but is a time to say “Thank You” to those veterans who are still around to hear it.
I have been asked for this address several times lately, so here it is.
Trinka Davis Veterans Outpatient Clinic
180 Martin Dr.
Carrollton, GA 30117
Clinic Front Desk: 404-321-6111, Ext. 2656, 2657
Robinson, a Carroll County resident and Vietnam veteran, is a member American Legion Post 143.