‘A nation forgetting its defenders will soon be forgotten’
PICTURE ROCKS Gregory Sullivan, Army LTC retired, began his remarks quoting President Calvin College, “The nation which forgets its defenders is a nation that will soon be forgotten.”
In that regard, Sullivan revisited several wars touching on its circumstances and fatalities during Memorial Day Services at Picture Rocks on Sunday, May 26, 2017.
“I will begin with the Civil War where approximately 620,000 Americans died,” Sullivan said. The speaker described the era’s war tactics by saying, “Visualize standing in an open field with thousands of enemies staggered in rows about 100 yards away. Artillery fire and cannon balls are exploding and rolling through your lines. How do you stand there waiting for your officer to command firing?”
Moving on to World War II, Sullivan’s approximate death toll numbered 417,000 Americans. “Imagine your unit is assigned to perform a beach invasion. With waves crashing against your amphibious boat, it heads toward the beach lined with concertina wire, land mines and machine gun nests. Machine gun bullets rattle the sides of your boat. You hit the beach and in the open you must advance toward the enemy. How do you get off the boat?”
Vietnam and its approximate 58,000 dead were revisited. “The Vietnamese built extensive tunnel systems where our smaller statured men were led to dead ends. Our ‘Tunnel Rats’ faced booby traps and guards. Imagine going there not knowing what you would face,” Sullivan said.
Iraq was the last instance given with fatalities numbering about 4500. Again Sullivan asked the audience to envision what he described. “Imagine it’s 140 degrees and you’re carrying 80 pounds of equipment. You are to patrol streets not knowing who will shoot you, or what might explode around you. How do you gear up and patrol?”
The answer Sullivan gave to all posed questions were, “With courage, pride, determination, selflessness, and dedication to duty.”
For possessing the qualities just mentioned, the speaker thanked military members and veterans in attendance.
Sullivan also noted that families endure plenty during times of conflict. “Service members know when they’re in danger and when they can relax. Families never rest. They watch the news, handle duties of two parents, and keep households running.” Families of service members were recognized.
In closing, Sullivan said, “People all over our country gather today to remember, honor and pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
Participants at the annual observance included: Master of ceremonies, Lion Robert Ferrell III; invocation by Pastor Lynn Wilcox of the Picture Rocks/Tivoli United Methodist Charge; speaker Gregory Sullivan; and the Hughesville High School Band under the direction of Mr. Geoffrey Harman.
The traditional recitations by Ferrell Elementary’s sixth grade students were “In Flanders Field” by Carmen Moores with Jackson Bowe giving the Gettysburg Address.
Member of Sharrow American Legion Post #35 presented the gun salute with taps played by HHS band members Jacob Reynolds and Dillon Eisenhard.