There is a lot of history being forgotten as time goes on, either through loss of interest or just a plain “who cares what happened” attitude.
With Memorial Day soon upon us, it is important to remember those that have come and gone throughout the ages that played an important part in writing our history. Some of the history associated with this country has been debated heavily in classrooms and on front porches for generations – events that happened at a particular time or place or different perspectives of an event. From the Revolutionary War to the present, it’s all relevant. However, when one debates an issue they are often left with a topic that often can only be proven through documents and books. Right now in this country there are very few eyewitness accounts of WWII remaining. There are very few survivors from that period of time, and when they are gone, so is the first hand information or their individual accounts. Some might say, “Who cares? That’s in the past.” Well, there are a few of those men and women left in this county, you can probably count them easily, that lived those days. If, in fact, each person on this Earth had to endure the hardships of a nation under fire, attitudes towards those that lived it would be of remembrance and honor. Those that lived it are in their 90’s now, and time just moves on.
This past Saturday was WWII Days in Fayetteville where reenactors from all over came in period uniforms. There were was military vehicles on display along with a parade and fashion show. There was music provided by the Everly Sisters from Pennsylvania who are reviving the music from the classic Andrew Sisters. It was a great event remembering those who gave of themselves and heralded those that are still living. Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Marine who received the medal of honor from WWII, was on hand to share his words of wisdom with future generations and to lead the crowd of close to 300 in a rousing Star Spangled Banner. Along with Mr. Williams were other WWII veterans, including some that were Rosie the Riveters. Each had their own story to tell to anybody who would listen. Many youth were involved in the event as well. It was a good day with a good crowd of people who wanted to do their part in remembering and talk one on one with someone who had been there.
So, as Memorial Day approaches, keep in mind that there are very few left among us that can say, “Yeah, I was there, now let me tell you one.” Here in Clay County one can almost count the WWII veterans on one hand. They need to tell their story, they need to be heard. Once they are gone, all that is left is books and papers, neither of which can compare to the real thing. As one of the veterans said to me Saturday, “They dropped us off in Africa and yelled FIX BAYONETS. We were waiting on a charge that never come and was glad because they didn’t give us bullets for our guns.” Classic stories like that will never be found in a book, so get out and lend an ear this Memorial Day and take care that your tongue doesn’t make you deaf.