Message at breakfast: Soldiers are ‘heroes all’

Published 6:32 pm Thursday, November 11, 2010

James Smith fought in America’s most unpopular war. He served when it was dangerous to admit that you were a soldier, when there were no heroes.

“There were times when I doubted – when I had bad thoughts – about being an American,” he told the gathering of veterans at the Veterans Breakfast Thursday morning. “But today, I’m proud to be an American and I would gladly give my life for our country.”

Smith was one of several Vietnam veterans who attended the breakfast along with veterans from World War II, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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He was also among those who spoke informally about their service and the pride that they feel in having defended freedom around the world.

An appreciative audience of family and friends expressed appreciation to the veterans for their service and told the veterans that, yes, there are heroes of all wars and “we are honored to be among them today.”

Charlie Terry, a 91-year-old veteran of WWII, asked for a show of hands from the Greatest Generation.

“I just wanted to see how many of us are still around,” he said, with a smile. “We had a time, didn’t we?” The veterans nodded and the audience responded with applause.

Janet Motes, director of the hosting Colley Senior Complex, said that, of all the events and activities that the Complex hosts, the Veterans Breakfast is her favorite.

“I don’t know how to thank you for your service,” Motes told the veterans. “It is so amazing what you have done and are doing to keep America free. Thank you from all of us.”

William “CC” Matthews was the featured speaker for the Veterans Breakfast. He served in the United States Air Force from July 1998 until April 2006 and served stateside as well as in South Korea, Germany, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Matthews said that he takes great pride in his service to country but, laughingly, admitted that there were times when he thought, “Mom, I want to come home.”

“I realized that I had taken a lot for granted,” Matthews said. “And, I also realized how great it was to be an American. I want to thank all of you veterans for bearing the weight of freedom on your shoulders.”

Cassie Gibbs, Troy University student volunteer at the Complex, stood and thanked the veterans and told them that their commitment, dedication and sacrifices have not gone unnoticed by the younger generation and that they are “heroes all.”