LCC senior delivers Veterans’ Day speech
What makes this country so great isn’t the politicians that bicker back and forth, arguing whose ideas are better or that “Democrats did this and Republicans said that,” but the citizens that fill this country make this nation great.
They spend each day helping neighbors, raising money for a little league ball team, and working hard to put food on their tables.
The American soldier is the one who protects the citizens of the country and the world. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Wyatt Taylor. I’m a senior here at LCC and I plan on starting a journey in the United States Navy.
Today isn’t about me though, it is about the brave men and women who have stepped forward and unselfishly fought to make and keep this great nation free.
I want to thank all the veterans for everything that you have done for us and for serving our country.
Veteran’s Day was originally celebrated to honor the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, signaling the end of World War I in 1918. Today we commemorate the veterans of all wars, honor those who have lived and remember the ones who have fallen.
Brave men and women serve our country every day to stop evil from spreading across the world. Evil can affect a person that has witnessed it just one time. Imagine seeing it EVERY DAY! Some of these soldiers witness the worst you can think of. It doesn’t just affect their mind, it affects their soul. About 20% of soldiers who fought in Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and about 30% of soldiers who fought in Vietnam were believed to have suffered from PTSD. Veterans with PTSD suffer from flashbacks, bad dreams, and many other effects.
These extraordinary people take their time to make sure all of you have a great life and keep the freedoms we have today. They spend hours training, whether it’s behind a computer, wrenching on an engine, in a submarine, learning how to disable a bomb, or shooting thousands of rounds of ammunition to make sure that their family and friends are safe. After the hours of training, they might get sent off on a plane, sometimes going thousands of miles away from their home. They won’t see their families and friends for months, even years, and the only thing they will receive from them are letters. Imagine being an ocean away from your mom and dad and not being able to talk to them. These soldiers leave and don’t know if they will make it back alive.
Soldiers are not the only ones that make sacrifices. Yes, they make a lot of sacrifices, but their families also struggle. They watch family members fly away on a plane and they don’t know if they will see them again. They sit there wondering if their father or mother, husband or wife, son or daughter, brother or sister, is going to come home.
These are just a few of the many reasons why Americans should not kneel during the national anthem.
There are more than 400,000 more reasons to stand for the anthem at Arlington National Cemetery, where there is row upon row of white stones bearing the names of heros that fought to keep that flag standing. These heroes fought in muddy trenches in France and Germany, Omaha Beach, halfway across the world to Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Saipan, the Chosin Reservoir, Pork Chop Hill, and in hundreds of rice patties and jungles in a place called Vietnam.
When the news of the attacks at Pearl Harbor had gotten to the ears of 13 year old Jack Lucas, it sparked a flame inside his head. He marched to Virginia, bribed some notary public to swear he was 17, then he forged his mother’s signature and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He was made a Marine at 14 then given a job doing manual labor at Parris Island. He then snuck out and hitched a ride to Pearl Harbor. He told the officer at Pearl Harbor there had been a clerical error and was supposed to be on the front lines in a combat arms role. He was instead made a truck driver at Pearl Harbor. After causing havoc in Hawaii he snuck onto a ship that was headed to the front lines. Of the 40,000 Marines that hit the beaches of Iwo Jima, he was one of the only ones that attacked without a gun. He then took a gun from a dead soldier and attacked. While he was fighting he noticed a grenade that had been tossed at the Marines. He threw his body over the grenade and told his fellow Marines to take cover. Another grenade landed next to him and he grabbed it and tucked it underneath him. The rest of the Marines went to retrieve his body, and in shock, found Jack not only alive but conscious. 7 months later, after 21 surgeries, Jack walked up to President Harry Truman and received his Medal of Honor - the most prestigious medal awarded to service members for their incredible acts of valor .
In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower rewarded Hiroshi Miyamura the Medal of Honor. Hiroshi tried to enlist in the Army during World War II but the Army didn’t accept Japanese Americans. He tried again and the Army accepted him but the war had ended by the time he had gotten done with his training. So when he got back he decided to enlist in the Reserves. In 1950 he was sent to Korea. This is his citation that President Eisenhower gave to him: “Cpl. Miyamura, a member of Company H, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. On the night of 24 April, Company H was occupying a defensive position when the enemy attacked. Cpl. Miyamura, a machine-gun squad leader, aware of the imminent danger to his men, unhesitatingly jumped from his shelter wielding his bayonet in close hand-to-hand combat, killing 10 of the enemy. Returning to his position, he administered first aid to the wounded and directed their evacuation. As another savage assault hit the line, he manned his machine gun and delivered withering fire until his ammunition was expended. He ordered the squad to withdraw while he stayed behind to render the gun inoperative. He then bayoneted his way through infiltrated enemy soldiers to a second gun emplacement and assisted in its operation. When the intensity of the attack necessitated the withdrawal of the company Cpl. Miyamura ordered his men to fall back while he remained to cover their movement. He killed more than 50 of the enemy before his ammunition was depleted and he was severely wounded. He maintained his magnificent stand despite his painful wounds, continuing to repel the attack until his position was overrun. When last seen he was fighting against an overwhelming number of enemy soldiers. Cpl. Miyamura’s indomitable heroism and consummate devotion to duty reflect the utmost glory on himself and uphold the illustrious traditions on the military service.”
On June 6, 1944 the Allies landed at Normandy. Army Medic Ray Lambert recalls the events.
“We were headed to Omaha Beach, and I was glad. After all the fight in Africa and Sicily I just wanted to get this war over with. It was daylight on the 6th. I went up on deck and found my brother Bill there. We talked about our chances and what our parents would think. About 6 a.m. the signal came to go to stations. My brother and I had promised whoever survived would take care of the other’s family. Then we shook hands and went our separate ways. I climbed down the nets and got into the higgins boat with my unit. On the way in, we could hear the battleships firing and see the big shells landing ahead of us. Guys were getting sick and vomiting from the choppy water and the diesel fumes. As we got closer the Germans had a birds eye view of us coming in. We picked up machine gun fire. The bullets clinged against the metal ramp of the boat like hail. Then the big 88s on the hill opened up. Every time a shell whistled overhead all you could hear was the sound of a banshee screaming. Boats around us were burning. I saw men on fire. Even there shoes were on fire. Dead and wounded were floating in the water. We had orders not to stop and pick anyone up. I told my men ‘When the ramp drops hit the water hard and keep as low as you can to dodge the bullets.’ We sank up over our heads. That was the last time I saw most of them. 31 men jumped off that boat. Just 7 of them made it to the beach. The only cover was a block of concrete that the Germans had failed to clear. That’s where I set up a collection point for the casualties. Medics were trained not to dig in. We were there to see the troops, and for them to see us. I detailed Cpl. Raymond Lapeur to hunker down and treat the men while I brought in the injured. Ray and I had been together since 39. I knew I could count on him. It was total confusion. Shells exploding. Boats blowing up. People yelling because they couldn’t hear anything. Machine gun bullets hitting the water all around you. The roar of the boats coming in. Its like your all alone in a world of a million people because you’re concentrating on what you have to do. Hadn’t gone far when I felt a bullet go through my right arm. I just kept going. I was thinking of only one thing - getting to the men who needed me. There was a soldier laying right on the edge of the water. One arm was almost shot off. Every time a wave would come in that arm would be pulled back into sea, and he tried to reach out for it. Nothing I could do for him. He died in my arms. I was on my way to treat another soldier when a piece of shrapnel tore a hole through my thigh. I put a tourniquet on it and gave myself a shot of morphine and went back to work. You did the job you were trained to do. If you didn’t, you died. I could feel my right arm going numb from the first bullet. Saw a guy struggling in chest deep water. I grabbed him with my good arm just as a Higgins boat rolled in and dropped its ramp. The ramp hit me right in the back. Crushed two vertebrae and pushed us both to the bottom. That’s when I said, ‘God I’ve asked you many times, but just give me another chance. Let me save one more person.’ And for some reason that boat raised its ramp and backed out.
The next thing I know I was on a boat going back to England. A Navy doctor looked at me, picked up my dog tags and said ‘We have another Lampert here.’ My brother Bill’s stretcher was put right next to mine on the same dock at Weymouth. He’d been on the beach with G-company. We went to the hospital in the same ambulance. When I woke up, he was on the cot next to me. We both made it out okay. Bill lived to be 92. People who have never been in a war should understand what soldiers give up. The guys we lost on Omaha Beach never had a chance to live the lives they dreamed of. A day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t prayed for the men we lost and their families. I still wake up at night sometimes thinking about the guys. Every man that walked into those machine guns and that artillery fire on Omaha Beach, every man, was a hero. What kind of person would I be if I didn’t tell their stories.”
That is exactly what I thought when I read these stories. In every war there are soldiers that have created heroic stories through their acts of patriotism.
These heroes are not superhuman by any means. They are just like you and me. These people have courage — the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. The courage these men and women have is what makes them so extraordinary. These people fill our country from sea to sea. They come from small towns, cities, farms and ranches. It doesn’t matter if you are white or black, Catholic or Protestant, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, in the end we are all Americans. It’s time we start acting like Americans and appreciate what our soldiers have done for us.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it through our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same,” - Ronald Raegan.