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Friday, May 6, 2016

Twelve men who gave everything

Friday, October 31, 2008

Names inscribed in cold, impersonal chunks of granite on a so-called "Moving Wall."

For some, they're just that ... names.

But for those who remember the individuals behind the names, or who simply think deeply enough to realize the sacrifices those names represent, much more.

For the next few days a group of soldiers who were, to a too-large extent, overlooked by many as only statistics -- or are now nearly-forgotten names from a distant past -- will finally receive just a portion of the recognition they deserve.

Thousands of names are inscribed on the Wall.

Twelve are ours.

Twelve men who carried Bedford County blood to the battle. Twelve men who were -- and still very much are -- part of us.

Twelve men who had guts enough to literally lay their lives on the line. Twelve men, some of who were there simply because their country ordered them to go, but followed orders.

A former Times-Gazette co-worker, who is a Vietnam veteran and bears the emotional scars to prove it, told of arriving in Washington state on his way home and being spat on by those who opposed American involvement in the war.

He's mentioned many times being touched by receiving honor, respect and thanks from Bedford County and Tennessee neighbors for his service.

That's why the Moving Wall will likely draw a much larger crowd in Shelbyville than other similarly-sized cities around the nation. We remember.

Look over the rolling, peaceful hills of Bedford County sometime after the Wall's moved on. Stand at Veterans Memorial Plaza on the courthouse lawn. Or simply watch the American flag wave.

And consider. Imagine being in an unfriendly foreign land, with enemies in full attack mode bent on killing. Imagine being the target of those enemies.

Imagine facing death head-on, and remaining brave to the end without flinching, running or giving up.

Imagine grieving families, forced to deal with lifelong pain inflicted by enemies who took more than just one life: They sapped the spirits of many of those whose war was fought through tears and fear without leaving their homeland.

Consider those who cared enough to stand up for their country during a conflict in which many in their own country, and even in the country they were defending, didn't care.

And realize it's because of those men, and others, that we have the freedom to enjoy the peaceful life we have in Bedford County.

Those soldiers didn't die in vain. They represent the American spirit -- one of standing up for what's right, even if it something seems as if everything right is wrong.

Twelve Bedford Countians.

Twelve stilled heartbeats -- whose sacrifices and love for their country were not stopped, even in death, and never will be.

May we remember, and honor, them always. And, especially, during the Moving Wall's visit. They deserve no less.

David Melson is a Times-Gazette copy editor/staff writer. He can be reached at dmelson@t-g.com.

David Melson
On the Loose