Dozens turned out at Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery Memorial Day morning to honor veterans who died in past wars and to remind Americans that some are still fighting in distant lands.
“I would like to ask that we don’t forget the thousands of service members who continue to fight today including the 2,200 “Dog Face” soldiers currently deployed in combat,” said Col. John D. Kline, commanding officer of the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division.
“Today as we enjoy this beautiful weather here under the Spanish moss in this historic setting, there are soldiers likely conducting final rehearsals before they board helicopters to conduct a raid in the mountains of Afghanistan,” said Kline. “Sergeants are inspecting soldier’s equipment and leaders are conducting pre-combat checks. There’s likely tension in the air and many are trying to make light of the situation to calm each other’s nerves before they embark on a mission in the darkest hours in the highest mountains not knowing if they will return home.”
Kline completed three combat tours serving once in Iraq and twice in Afghanistan. He says honoring those who are still fighting as well as those who have fought and died in previous wars is the purpose of Memorial Day. “And it’s important to have communities like Savannah who are so supportive of the military,” Col. Kline told us.
For many like Chatham County’s Veteran of the Year Frank Mullis who laid the ceremonial wreath, it is a day to feel loss, regret and pride. Mullis was 21 years old and fighting in Vietnam when he was wounded in the leg. He told us that doctors almost amputated his leg but he was instead put through rounds of rehab and sent home a few months later. “My cousin Tex told me that he was enlisting in the Marines,” Mullis says. “A few months later, he came home in a body bag.” Mullis says he always felt “Tex took a round for me and I will never forget that.”
So on this day especially, veterans, a few still from World War II, Korean, Vietnam and even Iraq and Afghanistan say they and their families gather to pay tribute to those who really did pay the “ultimate sacrifice and to encourage all Americans to remember veterans each and every day of the year.”
“There may be one thing worse than being wounded and that’s coming home and ultimately being forgotten,” one speaker said.