On Sunday, May 26th 2013 dozens gathered at Green Hill Cemetary to honor those Haywood County residents that have lost their lives in the previous year. The event was emceed by N. Chris Amsler EMCM(SW/AW) USN (RET) American Legion Post #47 Chaplain. Chuck Luce LtCol USA (RET) shared an inspirational message (text follows).
2013 MEMORIAL DAY PRESENTATION
Waynesville, North Carolina, May 26, 2013
Charles M. Luce, LTC, US Army (Ret)
Memorial Day is set aside to remember those who have died serving our country. … members of the armed forces, police, firemen and women, first responders.
And so we remember ….. And I remember and I will not forget.
Standing by the cornfield at the Antitem battleground from the Civil War where 6000 men died in one day
Looking down on the Burnside’s bridge, that narrow stone bridge leading into the confederate lines… the bridge defended by Georgians under constant attack by the New York Regiment.
Or standing near Little Round Top at Gettysburg and looking at the site of Pickett’s charge up the hill toward Cemetery Ridge
Wondering if the graves of the Southern soldiers who died at Antitem and Gettysburg were among the graves first decorated with flowers by the their widows and mothers …. marking the beginning of National Memorial Day of Remembrance. I remember and I will not forget.
Walking among the graves in Arlington National Cemetery seeing the final resting places of brave men who died in World War I. I remember and I will not forget.
Reading on the World War II monument in Canton, NC, the names of men from Haywood County who gave their lives during World War II… Frank Parton, Floyd Grasty, Robert Smathers, and Mack Stamey to name only a few. I remember and I will not forget.
Standing at the Korean Memorial in Washington DC looking up at those ghostly figures of infantrymen going up the sloping hill…. frozen forever in bronze.
Remembering my roommate for one year at West Point… Bruce Jeryl Hughes from High Point, NC. BJ left West Point after only 2 years, was drafted, sent to Korea and died there in 1953, just before the fighting stopped. I remember and I will not forget.
Standing, looking at that long black wall of granite on the Mall in Washington, DC, honoring those who died in the Vietnam War, I see the name of my classmate Don York, from Asheville, who died in 1962 while leading a column of South Vietnamese soldiers trying to rescue another group of South Vietnamese troops trapped by the Viet Cong.
And a little further along the wall is Jim Spruill’s name, another classmate from North Carolina who died in the stinking swamps of the Delta while advising the South Vietnamese in their battle against the Viet Cong in 1964…
And much further down the granite wall I find the name of another roommate at West Point, Rox Shain, an Air force fighter pilot who died over North Vietnam in 1968, shot down as he began his bombing run on a critical bridge near Hanoi..
And near the end of the wall I see the name of my classmate Andre Lucas from New York City…he died defending a lonely scarred hilltop known as Firebase Ripcord in the mountains of central Vietnam in 1970. He died on top of that hill and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic actions to save his battalion from destruction at the hands of a much larger force of North Vietnamese. I remember and I will not forget.
Overlooking the site of the 9/11 attack in New York City just a few days following the attack… the smell of death and destruction heavy in the air .. thinking about the men and women, fire, police, Americans who died on that terrible day. I remember and I will not forget.
As I watch the names of those killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and other hot spots around the world scroll across the TV screen today, I remember and I will not forget.
And because you came out here today to honor those who are buried here and elsewhere, I know you also will remember and that you also will never forget.”
Charles M. Luce, LTC, US Army (Ret).