Honor all soldiers past and present

Published 4:09 am Wednesday, February 16, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
I know a lot has been said about the men and women who have come back from the war in Iraq, but as a newer member of this community I had no idea what these people had been through.
Until I started working on the troops special section that was in last Sunday's paper I had no idea what these soldiers had gone through this past year.
Many of Atmore's brave guardsmen and women were able to come home on leave around September of this past year. While they were home a force as devastating as almost any bomb struck Atmore, Hurricane Ivan.
I can not imagine spending nearly six months in enemy territory surrounded by mortar blasts, gunfire and bomb-marked countryside only to come home in time to see your own home decimated by a catastrophic storm.
But I've never been in the military, and I was relatively safe in Clanton, Ala. when Ivan hit.
I'm the fourth generation of my family to be born in this country. My ancestors came over from Germany just as the Civil War was heating up.
A Weyhrich fought in that war and since that time every generation has fought with distinction in battle.
My grandpa was at the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944. He got a Purple Heart in a battle where nearly one out of every six Americans were cut down by German bullets.
My dad was a Seabee when America made the first hostile beach landing of the Vietnam War on May 7, 1965. His battalion arrived in Vietnam, at Chu Lai under heavy enemy fire, and built the airfield for the Marines to land on.
With an inability to keep my mouth shut and bad knees I learned in high school I was not the kind of person the military needed.
One time when I was a member of my school's Army ROTC a Marine recruiter came to speak to my class.
During the speech he said, "The Marines kicked the door down in Vietnam."
I raised my hand and before I could stop myself I said, "Excuse me, but my dad built that door and he didn't need a Marine boot print on it."
I thought Col. Jackson, the head of our JROTC program, was going to cry he was trying so hard not to laugh and I thought the 1st Sgt. was going to cry because she knew she couldn't actually kill me.
I have always been proud of our nation's military heritage and my family's contributions to it.
But I can not imagine war or combat. I can not imagine being separated from my family for months at a time.
The past year for members of Atmore's Company A has been a hard one for a lot of reasons. From Saddam to Ivan they have had to face possible death.
We should remember that these men and women are part of an American legacy of heroes who have fought and sometimes died so that we may be free.
Lee Weyhrich is the Managing editor of the Atmore Advance. His column appears weekly.

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