Veterans Day honors all service members

Now that Halloween is over, we’re entering a time marketed as the “holiday season.”

I don’t know who I should complain to, but I really dislike that term. Thanksgiving and Christmas are specific holidays set aside for very special purposes, and lumping them together dishonors their intent.

The rush to enter the “season” also overlooks another important date on our calendar: Veterans Day. On November 11 we honor all who have served or are still serving, during war and peace time.

Most of us have veterans in our family or our family tree, and I want to take this opportunity to honor those who are part of mine.

My brother John Mark Morgan is an Army Colonel working at the Pentagon. He started his career right after high school and has earned two Masters degrees in the Army. The first qualified him to serve in the Chemical Corps, which defends us from chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons; the second fulfilled his call to the ministry. He is Assistant to the Chief of Chaplains in the U.S. Army, who is a two-star general. John Mark has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ernest Lee Fultz was my mom’s dad. He grew up in the Ozarks during the Depression and left school in the 8th grade to help support his family. At 16 he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, where he learned to drive a truck. The skill served him well when he entered the Army at 17, and at 18 was a “Half-Track” Sergeant, commander of a group of armored vehicles that were half-car, half-tank. He landed on Normandy Beach during the D-Day invasion, and was involved in battles from there to Berlin, including the Battle of the Bulge. He passed away in 2011 at age 91 in Coal Hill, Arkansas.

Benjamin Franklin Morgan was a Drill Sergeant in the Army before the war began, then was stationed in the Aleutian Islands, where U.S. forces battled Japanese invaders in a 15-month air war. He was assigned to the reconstruction effort in post-war Germany, and a highlight of his career was parading his platoon in front of Dwight D. Eisenhower there. He lived with my family after my grandmother passed away, and was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known:  an amputee who walked at our Old Armory a mile a day on crutches. He passed away in 1994.

My Grandfather Morgan was a huge influence in my life and I considered him my best friend. I’m so fortunate to have had both my grandfathers’ example of  loyalty, hard work, and belief in the vision and opportunity this nation offers. Theirs truly was the greatest generation.

Lawrence County Veterans Service Officer Donnie Morris tells me there are 2,575 veterans living in Lawrence County. The number was significantly larger just a few years ago, but we have lost all our local WWII veterans, and many who fought in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

We are blessed that 91-year-old William S. Guthrie, who survived 30 months as a P.O.W. during the Korean War,  is still with us and will be Grand Marshal of Lawrenceburg’s Veterans Day parade. The event begins at 11 a.m. on North Military Avenue at Coleman Memorial United Methodist Church, travels around the Square to Pulaski Street, then disperses at Coffman Middle School.

The work accomplished at our Veterans Service Office is the best way Lawrence County honors its veterans.  Morris and his assistant Jared Belew have helped veterans and surviving spouses claim an amazing $19.5 million in new benefits (back pay and monthly payments) this calendar year alone.

Many thanks to veterans of every age and every branch of service. Let’s not forget that men and women are still serving us and putting their lives at risk.

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