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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Honor Their Sacrifice; Remember*

*Somerset, PA Daily American
November 13, 2011
as "Standing Our Ground"

Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey

Shivering in the cold, the soldier grasps the steel of his musket.  Around him, his comrades hunch down in the boat as heavy wind-blown snow obscures their vision.  Slowly, their boat, along with many others, edges towards the New Jersey shore.  On the other side lies an encampment of Hessians, brutal barbarians known for their atrocities and their merciless treatment of captives.  The soldiers know that once they cross the Delaware on this cold night in 1776, the gates of hell await them.

A September morning in 1813 on Lake Erie is suddenly torn by the roar of combat.  American sailors man their posts while cannonballs tear into their ship.  The HMS Detroit, attempting to break through to Amherstburg, rakes the Americans with its longer-range guns.  The American crew bravely withstands the heavy fire for 20 long minutes until the USS Lawrence finally closes the range sufficiently to fight back.

South of Gettysburg, soldiers from Minnesota are rushed to the crest of a hill to meet an attack of 2,000 Rebels.  If the Confederates take this ridge, the Union loses the battle and perhaps, the war.   After a ferocious fight, the Minnesotans hold the ridge.   Of the original 262 soldiers, only 47 survive.

In the chill of October 1918, American troops move carefully through the woods of The Ardennes.  It has been a bloody battle, but the German army is finally retreating.  The end is near.

On a hot, humid night north of Guadalcanal , a powerful Japanese naval force  intent on running the Americans off this important island for good, has burst into Iron Bottom Sound.  The American ships, outnumbered and outgunned, are all that stand between the enemy and the U.S. Marines ashore, desperately hanging on.  For forty minutes, the night erupts in desperate battle.  And in the dawn’s early light, half the American ships are damaged or sinking; thousands of sailors dead.   But the Japanese have fled.  The island is safe for one more day.

The war in Korea was all but over, the North Korean army’s remnants chased all the way to the Chinese border.  But Chinese troops have charged south, sweeping the UN forces before them.  In the northeast of the peninsula, American soldiers and Marines are cut off and surrounded near the Chosin Reservoir.  In temperatures hovering around 35 degrees below zero, the Americans grimly prepare to stand their ground.

As s river patrol boat makes its way through the Mekong region, a 23-year-old gunner observes movement along the shore.  The boat changes course to engage the enemy.  During the fight, the gunner sees a grenade arcing through the air towards the boat.  He races aft, warning his shipmates, pushing the boat captain down.  The grenade explodes; the gunner absorbs the blast with his own body, saving the rest of the crew.  The young man, David G. Ouellet, is posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The silence of the desert morning is broken by the roar of 1,500 tanks and 150,000 troops.  As far as the eye can see, vehicles are surging forward towards Kuwait City.  Once again, an ally has been invaded and has asked for help.  America responds.

The Marines carefully approach the corner of the building.  After pausing, they burst across the street in twos and threes, listening for the all-too-familiar crack of AK-47 rifles.  Door by door, building by building, they and their Army comrades work to clear Fallujah of insurgents.

For 234 years, on battlefields near and far, American soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and guardsmen have put their lives on the line, not only to defend America, but to stand for the cause of freedom and liberty the world over.  They left their homes and families, small towns and big cities, to go where the need was greatest.  Their courage and stout hearts have not only preserved our freedom, but brought that light of liberty to millions who had lived in the darkness of oppression.  On Veteran’s Day we honor them, their service, their sacrifice, and their honor.  Take the time to thank the veterans who were lucky enough to come home.

And ask God to thank the rest.
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