Could have heard a pin drop

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 14, 2009

Some things are meant to be shared.

This is one of those things.

Veterans Day should be one of the most important days of the year. Sadly, it’s not. That is evidenced by the small number of people who attend our Veterans Day programs – the few who take time to remember those who gave their lives so that we can live in the greatest country in the world.

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Neal Thrasher read a piece titled “You Could Have Heard a Pin Drop” at the Veterans Day Program at Elam Baptist Church on Wednesday. It’s one of those things that are meant to be shared.

JFK’s Secretary of State Dean Rusk was in France in the early 1960s when Charles DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO. DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded, “Does that include those who are buried here?”

DeGaulle didn’t respond.

You could have heard a pin drop.

When in England at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if the United States’ plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building by George Bush.

He answered by saying, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that didn’t return.

You could have heard a pin drop.

There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including the French and Americans. During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying, “Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intend to do, bomb them?

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly, “Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people. They are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities. They have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day. They can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships. How many does France have?

You could have heard a pin drop.

A U.S. naval admiral was attending a naval conference that included admirals from the United States, English, Canadian, Australian and French navies. At a cocktail reception, the US admiral found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.

“Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French,” he asked.

Without hesitating, the American admiral replied, “Maybe it’s because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.

You could have heard a pin drop.

Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carryon.

“You have been to France before, monsieur?” the customs officer asked sarcastically.

Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

“Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.”

“The last time I was here I didn’t have to show it,” the American said.

“Impossible. Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France.”

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained.

“Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchman to show a passport to.”

You could have heard a pin drop.

It’s never too late to say “Thank you” to those who fight for and defend freedom around the world and never too late to remember those who paid for those freedoms with their lives. That’s what Veterans Day is all about.