All gave some. Some gave all; Always remember
June 1, 2011 - He stood tall in the sweltering heat, flanked by his veteran comrades. In full uniform and with a salute, retired Marine Maj. David Gosslee shed quiet tears for those who gave all.
"I'm thinking about some friends of mine," he said while he stood ramrod straight with a contingent of fellow veterans from many wars who showed up at the 14th annual Bond Memorial Chapel service Monday.
The record high temperatures did not phase those observing the service, including those who were wheeled in and those who leaned on canes. With the American flag at half-staff and unfurled in the hot breeze, the service unfolded on this muggy day with the constant hum of incessant cicadas in the nearby trees that provided at least a small respite in the heat.
The number of veterans who show up annually to pay tribute to America's fallen soldiers decreases in size each holiday as the veterans age. This year a few of the loyal regulars were noticeably missing. However, veterans Pfc. Harry Snodgrass, who stormed Omaha Beach in World War II; Mt. Juliet City Commissioner Ted Floyd, Bob Neal and others were there again this year.
Andy Bond set the mood for the veterans and dozens of citizens dressed in red, white and blue. Then the Mt. Juliet/Lebanon Police Honor Guard presented the colors. Bond spoke about sacrifice. The veterans and the crowd – with a backdrop of a wreath to be laid on the nearby memorial stone inscribed with 41 names of Mt. Juliet's fallen – stood alert as U.S. Marine Corps veteran David Hale read a poem and sang a patriotic song.
The guest speaker was retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jay Drescher. He said the hardest speech he ever gave was not during the many trials he oversaw in his profession as an attorney.
"It was at a Gold Star banquet," he said.
He spoke of the men and women who gave their lives for their country and about the parents of these special people. Monday's speech revolved around a Sherlock Holmes saying that there was a dog in the night and the dog did not bark. He related it to not all the things earned in wartime that we see everyday, but the things we don't see; the privileges that sometimes are taken for granted.
He gave a special salute to all the police, firefighters and EMTs who are also willing to die to save our lives. He noted all the soldiers still in Afghanistan.
"It's hard to understand why they are willing to die, he said. "It's for the things that do not happen."
He mentioned that nobody told him he had to attend worship services, that he had the right to go or not to go. He spoke about how we aren't pulled over by Gestapo-type police just for the heck of it.
"We are not told what to read or write," he said. "It's what did not happen to you and your neighbor we should think about today."
And while many of us think it's repugnant, Drescher said people are not stopped from going to the funeral of a soldier and expressing anti-Americanism.
"It's about the irony of America," he said. "We know that all wars are bad, and some probably should not be fought. But when people decide to send us, we don't hold up our hand and say, 'I ain't gonna go.'"
He said we die for the laws we take for granted.
"Our laws were paid for in blood, sweat, heartbreak and pain," said Drescher.
He talked of a world that could have been dominated by the Nazis.
"A half million died in World War II … all soldiers are cut from the same red, white and blue cloth."
After the tribute, Gosslee reflected on his service to the country, just after Taps were played and the laying of the wreath.
"I was not a Christian when I went to war," he said, watching the wreath sway in the breeze. "I did not believe in God."
He said he was guarding the perimeter of his camp in Vietnam when there was a huge explosion in the munitions area. If he had been the place he normally was, he said he'd have been killed.
"We were suppose to be these macho men," said Gosslee. "I found myself praying to God to not let me die. I didn't pray to my mother, but to God. He was the only one that could."
He said he realized at that moment he needed God to help him finish his tour.
"I had said there were two things I would not do," he noted. "Go to church and get back in the Army."
However, not too much later, Gosslee became a preacher and went back into the Army as a chaplain.
"God is good," he said. "And the devil is bad."
Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 758-2277 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.