Patriots gather in Elamville

Published 6:34 pm Thursday, November 11, 2010

American patriots gathered at Elam Baptist Church Cemetery at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to celebrate, respect and honor those who are called veterans.

Sixty veterans are buried in the rural cemetery.

Featured speaker, Col. (Ret.) Lawrence Bowden of Brundidge was the featured speaker and noted that many churches much larger than Elam Baptist Church don’t host ceremonies that honor veterans. An annual Memorial Day program is also held at Elam and both ceremonies are sponsored by VFW Post 7055 in Brundidge.

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Bowden said that the word “hero” is often used to refer to veterans.

“But there are many heroes (of freedom) that never put on a uniform,” he said. “They are those who develop and supply weapons. They are those who deliver weapons by air and sea. They are those who support our military in many ways. But we are here today to honor those who wear the uniform of the American soldier.”

Bowden posed the question as to what makes an individual want to go to the far reaches of the world to fight for freedom.

“War is a terrible ordeal,” he said. “It’s a tough way to do things. But there are some people in this world who just can’t get along and we, as Americans, can’t sit and do nothing as some other countries do.”

Americans’ desire for independence and freedom can be traced back to England in the 1600s.

“England was so strict on its people and would not allow them to worship as they pleased,” Bowden said. “Those who resisted were harassed, imprisoned and even killed and eventually they were willing to give up the world as they knew it and travel to a distant land, not knowing what to expect. It was a tough life for them here in America but they stayed. They stayed because freedom was that important to them.”

The grit and determination of those who first came to America are still evident in its people today.

Over the years, there have been 35 millions individuals who earned the right to be called veterans.

But the cost of freedom has been high as hundreds of thousands have lost their lives and the number continues to rise as the United States is defending freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“In addition to the deaths, the wounded warriors are coming home, many of them to a living hell,” Bowden said. “Many of the 32,000 wounded have lost limbs and half of them have serious mental problems. About 6,500 female veterans are living on the streets.

“This is America and we owe the veterans greatly for their sacrifices. We must not forget our veterans. That’s what this day is all about. Honoring and remembering and doing what needs to be done to make sure our veterans are not forgotten.”

Gerald Murphy, a member of Post 7055 closed the program speaking for himself and for many others like him.

“I’m proud to be a veteran,” he said. “I’d do it all again. If I had the opportunity, I would put my uniform back on and say good-bye to my wife … and she would understand.”