Remembering our veterans who sacrificed so much for us

Nov. 10, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

My uncle Jim Gordon is a hero to me.

During the worst years of the Vietnam War he was there on numerous occasions when the U.S. Army called him.

All I know of his time there is just that. He was there.

He never talked about his days in Vietnam that kept our country torn apart in the late 1960s.

He is a career Army man who received many decorations.I really don't know anything much about that either.

He was quiet around the family when it came to talking about his military career.

I know he was well respected by his peers. Our family was always happy when he was back in the United States, stationed in nearby Fort Jackson or Fort Gordon.

He, his wife and daughters lived in a lot of exciting places, including a three-or-four-year stint in Hawaii, during his career. My sisters and I thought that was the neatest thing in the world. 

He was a hard worker and he and his family sacrificed a lot as he served his calling in the Army.

Today he doesn't get around easily. But when he's out there he proudly wears one of his Army caps and never forget he's a soldier.

I think about Jim today and all the other veterans in Rutherford County whose lives were spent making sure ours were better.

Among my favorite stories in 2013 were those of Joe Ford and Don Hemphill, who after decades received their Purple Heart medals. 

I'll always remember how proud it felt to be with these families as the vetearns their awards. (Ford passed away a few weeks later.)

When I think about the POWs in our county, such as Ford, Bailey Gillespie, Farris Green and others, I don't know how to express my thanks for all the things they have done for us while they were in isolation in far away places.

I think about Col. Ted Ballard, a Vietnam POW, I came to know and love when he returned home after eight years in captivity.

Meeting him at the Spartanburg airport when he came home was a day filled with tears.

This frail man met the press that day and for the first time shared his horrors of war.

Tomorrow as we celebrate Veterans Day, what an opportunity just to say thanks.

I had breakfast this summer in a veterans cafe in Myrtle Beach, S.C. that is operated by the veterans. They show up every day to try to make a little more money for one another.

I thought about that when our veterans hosted a hot dog lunch in order to help each other. 

To every man and woman who has served our country in different branches of service, I am so thankful for you.

And maybe next time we see a veteran at a gas station or a restaurant, maybe we can say thanks by picking up a check.

We can't thank you veterans enough.