Veterans Day 2012Published 11:00pm Monday, November 12, 2012
‘Owed by so many to so few’
Dark clouds began to bank in the north, threatening to bring the Veterans Day program at Bicentennial Park to an early close Monday.
But the rains didn’t come until the Memorial Wreath was being placed at the Veterans Memorial, as most of those who came to honor the veterans of all American wars scurried to shelter.
As the rains began to fall, one elderly man stopped and turned to another “What he said about so few doing for so many … who said that?” a veteran asked.
Lt. Col. James D. “Jim” Lawrence, USAF (Ret) was the featured speaker at the annual Veterans Day program at Bicentennial Park in Troy at the 11th hour on Monday.
“What he said …” was a quote Lawrence repeated several times to bring honor to the men and women who have answered the call of their country: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” It is attributed to former British Prime Minster Winston Churchill.
Lawrence used Churchill’s words to bring greater awareness to the great debt of gratitude that Americans owe to those who have fought for and preserve the freedoms that are the envy of people around the world.
But Lawrence said the number of Americans who make up the country’s fighting forces is dimishing.
“During World War II, 11.2 percent of the America’s population was in the military,” he said. “During Vietnam, 4.3 percent served and, today, our military is only .5 perent of our population. Only 10 members of Congress have served in the military and neither of the 2012 presidential candidates have served.”
Lawrence said today’s military is made up of ordinary citizens who do extraordinary things. “Ordinary citizens who become America’s first line of defense against tyranny.”
“And their sacrifice is great,” he said. “Our soldiers, Marines and sailors are just as brave and willing as ever before. And, as Teddy Roosevelt said, ‘The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.’”
And it is those men and women, those who are actually in the arena that are honored on Veterans Day.
“They have endured, sacrificed and given their all so that those of us who cannot do or choose not to do can enjoy the freedoms that we as Americans have,” he said. “These young soldiers have had to experience the horrors of war. Many of them were farm boys, like those from Pike County who left home for a cause greater than themselves.”
Lawrence mentioned and recognized several local veterans who were ordinary men who stepped out and did extra ordinary things.
The military exploits of Corp. Irvin Pinckard and Col. Herman Youngblood of Troy and Corp. John Blair of Springhill are among the many recorded in Lawrence’s recently released book, “Airman’s Odyssey: An Air Force Special Operator’s Incredible Journey.”
Lawrence wrote the book to pay tribute to all veterans who are unsung heroes. He said this country owes a debt to America’s veterans and it is one that can never be fully repaid.
“So, we can only honor them through ceremonies like this one today,” he said. “I am honored to be in the presence of these veterans. It’s true that so many owe so much to so few and I salute them.”