by Faye Lewis
November 8, 2009

by Faye Lewis
November 8, 2009

We've gathered today to honor some of the unsung heroes of our town and country, those who have served our country during some of its darkest days. All give credence to the statement "They also serve who only stand and wait."

Who are these heroes? If you were here in the 1940's your contributions were varied. You might have been the mother who, having protected her son during his childhood days, watched as he answered his country's call to service and went off to war.

Perhaps you were a young wife and mother forced to take on the full responsibility of your home and children. Added to that burden was the need to work outside the home, not only to provide the necessities of life, but also to help the war effort. The valley was thriving with factories whose major work force consisted of women. During WW II you might even have been "Rosie the Riveter", working in a factory producing military equipment and weaponiy-- supplies so necessary for the troops.

A recent article posted on the internet reminded us that being a housewife during that time was not easy since they had very limited resources. Such things as gasoline, butter, sugar and coffee were rationed and their use had to b e carefully monitored. The ration system was successful because of the ingenuity of the women of America.

Through all of our conflicts, many women served as nurses whose job it was to care for the wounded or dying either on the battlefield or in hospitals back home.

Some of you watched as an older brother was called to enter the service prior to his high school graduation. Though saying goodby was not easy, you made sure that he received letters and care packages regularly.

Or, perhaps, you were one of the teenage girls who, together with a friend, strolled the streets of town, often taking note of the small flags with a star in the middle, adorning the front windows of many homes. Each star represented a young man missing from that home--a gold star reminding you that someone there had paid the supreme sacrifice.

Were you the one who had your disrupted when a special person went to serve in Korea? The 1950's made that necessary.

The war in Vietnam brought a new experience. For the first time, more women went into service, more nurses served on the battlefield and in hospitals away from home. And,
for the first time, we watched in horror as angry mobs against the war spat upon those returning from combat. You, as a mother, sister or sweetheart, suffered along with your
loved one as veterans returning from Vietnam were verbally abused by people with misplaced anger and frustration. Those were some of the darkest days of our nation's history
and we should all resolve that it will never happen again

There followed Desert Storm. Iraqi Freedom and the War on Terrorism, which continues even today. And, American woman, true to form, will continue to keep the home fires burning and give support wherever needed.

The pain of these experiences is indelibly printed on the memory banks of all who lived through them. But how should that affect the way we live today? It is incumbent upon each
of us to improve the world around us by creating a peaceful, loving atmosphere in our own small spheres so that, like a stone thrown into water, we may expand our influence. How
do we begin?

Each of us must teach our little ones and youth that when a flag goes by they should stand quietly or if called upon to salute do so, not because they must be but because they may.

We must teach them that when they hear the strains of The Star Spangled Banner they should rise and let the words of the song wash over them. We must encourage them that when they meet someone in military uniform or dressed like some of our veterans are here today they should greet them with a smile and say thank you.

Remember this! All of us, from the youngest to the oldest, should begin each day by thanking the Lord that we have been placed in a country where freedom is not just a word but a way of life. That, in spite of our many weaknesses and our ofttimes lack of good judgment, America is
and always will be the greatest country on earth. It is a beacon of hope to people throughout the world who yearn to be free. And it will remain such as long as its people love God, care about each other, and are giving and sacrificial. And that will remain true because of people like you and you and you.

Thanks to our unsung heroes for without their sacrifices our country's history would surely have been rewritten. God bless you and God bless America.