The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 13, 2012

Our Readers Speak — Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012

Stand tall, remain strong beneath the Stars and Stripes

We’re not just the Marines, Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard or Special Forces. We’re comrades that fought together for the same cause. Do you know how we gave our lives? Do you really have any idea of what our life was like? How our hearts ached for that porch swing, the summertime breeze, an ice cold glass of lemonade or just a whiff of fresh cut grass and clover sweet. Oh, to see mom and dad, the wife and kids, all the family, and to be back home with them for just one more minute. But we marched off to war with our weapons trained and ready to fight; we were duty bound. Uncle Sam needed our help.

You have come to touch our names, grieve and weep at this granite wall of sorrow. A wall of tears, yet a wall of honored and glory. A wall of pride. Many were killed on day one in combat and some died on their last day. Death took its toll without regard of age. Casualties, MIAs, POWs, rockets, mortars, booby traps, shrapnel, ambushes and foxholes were all a part of our daily regiment. Heat, mud, and battle cries as we embraced the dying in an environment at it’s worst; not wanting to give our loved ones back to God.

High school buddies no longer boys but men. Brothers, fathers and sons, and women coming together as strangers but united as friends, trying to survive and lift one another up in extremely difficult circumstances. No one will ever know what real freedom is until you have to fight for it. Try to dry your eyes as you get a rubbing of our names with your  pencil and paper. Remember the unknown soldiers, all the sacrifices made in the past and today. Do us a favor please...when you meet a veteran, be kind and respectful. He may not be crippled or maimed physically, but he is hurting inside.

Etched in tombstones, this wall, in graves, in the spirited military still serving today is loyalty, valor, pride, and steadfastness. If this wall could speak, we would say thank you for caring, for coming to sit a spell. Thanks for the pebbles, the coins, the flags, the boot, and the lovely red rose. But most importantly never ever forget why you are free today. Look to God for guidance and pray in everything. Your honor to our lives will be our medals, our silver wings when you stand tall and remain strong beneath the Stars and Stripes and never apologize for being an American. Be proud as you continue to preserve and protect our homeland ... America; for this is why we died.

Evangeline Stover

Shady Spring