Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Tribute to my Daddy

Our little town began celebrating Memorial Day festivities early this morning with the unveiling of the new Veterans Memorial. What better way to honor those who have fought and are still fighting! It truly is beautiful and as one speaker said today, "It would be right at home in Washington, DC." The only thing missing this morning was my military hero ~ my Daddy.

Daddy enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943, ending a promising baseball career in order to serve his country. He was stationed in Guam where he was wounded two times for which he received a Purple Heart. After serving his country, he served his community ~~ Daddy served as City Police Chief, deputy sheriff under two administrations, was with the Enforcement Division of the Georgia Department of Transportation for almost 29 years and served as Chatsworth Municipal Judge for 18 years prior to his death. He was the first Veteran in our town to receive a Purple Heart tag and was so proud of it.

Daddy and his tag in 1992
His grandchildren and great grandchildren loved for him to recount his “war stories” and used them many times in history reports. Tears would fill his eyes as he remembered his fallen “buddies.” Because of them, he always took part in the Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day celebrations on our courthouse lawn.
Zeke, Doc Carpenter, Dewitt, Mack and Daddy
The fearsome five always let me snap a picture following every celebration.
Daddy wearing his purple heart
This morning's events brought back memories of Daddy's funeral ~~ the band playing the anthems for each branch of service, the 21-gun saluate followed by TAPS. Has it really been almost 6 years ago? When I looked around the over 2,000 crowd trying to find some of the men who always took part in celebrations at the courthouse, I realized it had been that long ~ many of them like Daddy have gone home, while others were being pushed in wheelchairs by loved ones, and still others needed help walking and simply couldn't stand to take part.
Dr. Carpenter was the only one out of the original group of 5 able to participate completely -- not only that, he was one of the major players in making this memorial a reality!
On July 2, 2004, with an American flag draped across his casket, The Battle Hymn of the Republic played as he was brought in and out of the church, with the touching salute to the casket by the minister before he spoke, and the 21-gun salute followed by the playing of TAPS at the grave site, Daddy was layed to rest as family and friends were reminded of the service he gave to his country. Thank you, Daddy, for your service and the legacy of love you left your family and friends. Flags are flying for you today.
Our prayers of thanksgiving and safety are for the men and women like our young friend, Lyle, from church and Brad, our neighbor's son, who are fighting on foreign soil so we remain free. There are so many others from our little town ~ many of them former students of mine ~ serving with Brad and Lyle. We salute all of you today and pray daily for God's continued watch care over you until you are safely home again with your families.

To those who have fallen in service like Gary and Jerry from our 1966 graduating class and to those like Daddy who served their country then their families and communities before going home, we thank you and we salute you. It is because of men and women like you that we are still a "land of the free and home of the brave."

Highlights of this morning's activities for family who couldn't join us . . . Entrance to the park, emblem on gate at the highway, and presentation stage

Boy Scouts performed flag ceremony; Major General James Terry and Lt. Colonel Robert Wilson ( my boys at MCHS) were featured speakers; Taylor & the gang with the band; Tom Starnes ~ a Vietnam Veteran. The rest of the family in attendance (minus Aunt Lynn's pic). Happy 1st Birthday today, Sweet Josie!!

U. S. Marine Corps Monument

Then at 4:00 p.m. our hills "were alive with the sound of music" ~ choirs from 4 local churches, part of MCHS marching band, plus other local musicians ~ a beautiful tribute in the park to America and her service men and women.

Randy was the only one representing the Kendrick-Duncan clan in the choir. You remember the ladies pictured above, I'm sure.
Wish you all could have been here but, hopefully, this will help you feel like you were. I know Pop would have been so excited and proud to have been part of all the happenings today. Wish he could have seen it, too!!

No comments:

Post a Comment