- Category: Archives
- Published on Wednesday, 19 April 2017 13:18
- Written by Ralph Shealy
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Project To Remember County
Soldiers Who Died In War
Ben Ward, a member of Saluda American Legion Post 65, has begun a project to put stories behind the names listed on the Saluda County memorial to the soldiers from here who died in war.
Ward would like to know more about the heroes, and would like to interview relatives. He would also like to collect photos of the soldiers.
If you would like to share stories about your relative from Saluda County who died in a war, you may email Ward at bac2boots@gmail. com.
For Our 99 and
Those Like Them
BY BEN WARD
Small towns across our nation each have their unique qualities, yet they have some common traits as well, especially the county seats.
Drive through most any small town county seats in Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, Georgia and our fair State of South Carolina, and you will find the Courthouse. Along with the courthouse generally there are various county and town government buildings, usually in close proximity to the town square or courthouse complex. Tucked away somewhere close by you will also find aa often ignored memorial of some sort. It will be dedicated to the memory of those resident citizens who put on the nation’s uniform, went away to some foreign land and were never seen again walking their hometown streets.
In this Saluda is no different. We have one monument on the courthouse lawn, where people travelling though town on Main Street can see it. There are 99 names on it, going back to the Spanish American War all the way up to Vietnam. Five wars, all thankfully fought somewhere else.
Some of you may have known some of those men, although it’s closing in on 42 years since the end of the last war enumerated on the monument.
Every one of those names on every one of those monuments spread across the nation represents a life, each with their own unique traits and some common ones to the story of all Americans. They may have been rich or poor, well thought of or despised. They may have been fathers, husbands, sons. However, the one aspect common to each name is at some point their life’s journey here on Earth came to an abrupt end and they sacrificed ALL of their tomorrows for YOUR today.
Being a son of a career enlisted Navy sailor I was exposed from earliest childhood to Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airmen who were sent into harm’s way and lived to tell about it, if they talked about it at all, which most of them did not. With the passing of the years each one of them I knew personally has gone on to their final rest.
They did not wear a cape and leap tall buildings in a single bound. They were just men, imperfect and flawed in their own way and I admired them for what they had done. The few that did say anything about their time “over there” to a man said they were not heroes. They said the heroes were the ones they knew who came home in a box, if they came home at all.
As a former soldier and combat veteran, I feel a certain awe that I’m able to stand in front of our monument and ponder what chance of fate prevented my name from being added to the list etched in stone, albeit under a title of a different war.
Since my return from a more recent combat zone I have come across others of my brothers in arms from the same theater of operations. As we share experiences, many times there is that momentary pause and that face while recalling the close calls or loss of a comrade whose name will be etched on some possible monument in the future.
When military people gather at unit functions, reunions or just at the regular watering hole there is a traditional toast of “ Absent Companions.”
Glasses are drained and turned upside down on the table. It’s our tribute we give to honor the memory of those fallen troops who were a part of our lives and mourn their sudden and often violent departure from us. It’s also in memory of the ones who have reported for duty in that land from where no one returns since the last time we gathered.
This holiday we call Memorial Day is set aside to honor those whose names appear on those monuments and those who are still MIA (missing in action). Perhaps you will take a few moments during the holiday and ponder the names and what they sacrificed.