Mary Jane Spivey Dr. Jack Brown, VA Chaplain
Laurens County Historical Society President Scott B. Thompson, Sr. addressed the crowd on the history of the monuments.
Tens of thousands of Laurens Countians have answered the call to serve our nation.
We come here today to honor those 193 men who have given their lives in the defense of our freedoms.
The monuments around us honor those who gave their lives during both World Wars and the wars in Korea and Vietnam. A single monument honors Sgt. Dewey Johnson, who was one of eight Americans who died in the failed attempt to rescue Americans held hostage in Iran in 1980.
Regrettably, there are more. Going way back to the War of 1812 and possibly during the Indian and Mexican wars in which Laurens Countians gave the last full measure of devotion.
There are many more who have lost their lives during the years between our armed conflicts.
Perhaps it is fitting and only proper that today, the citizens of our county honor these fallen heroes as well by adding their names to a new monument, a monument to the brave heroes of peace time.
The process of honoring veterans who lost their lives in military service began in 1921 when the United Daughters of the Confederacy honored the fallen heroes of World War I.
In 1947, as the last of the bodies of Americans killed in Europe and Asia were being brought back to Laurens County for burial, the members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the many others erected a monument to honor the true heroes of World War II.
It would be another thirty plus years before the community erected another monument. In the late 1970s, the American Legion Post No. 17, led by its former commanders Wendell Zeigler and H. Dale Thompson, decided it had been too long since the end of the wars in Korea and Vietnam without having a monument to honor those who died in those wars.
Scott B. Thompson, Sr. - President, Laurens County Historical Society
To show how our community responds to a call to honor these heroic men, my father, Dale Thompson, was able to raise all of the necessary funds to erect this monument with a series of phone calls in a single morning.
Following the tragic death of Sgt. Dewey Johnson in his attempt to save the lives of others, his memory was honored with a monument which has now joined in line with those servicemen of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
The price of freedom is a heavy one. More will die. We can not change that. What we can do is to continue to honor these heroes and all veterans, not only on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, but on every day of every year until the end of time.
We can and must pray for the continued safety of our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen.
And, when the time comes to build another monument and inscribe names upon it, that we do so with no hesitation or reservation.
I would like to leave you today with the lyrics of a song written by Mac Davis and performed by Gary Puckett. A little more than a year ago I got a chance to talk to Gary, who sold more records in1968 than the Beatles and Elvis Presley. He told me he has to sing this song, adding too many men never came home and those who did, did not receive a proper welcome.
Every night they lie awake
and dream of mama's chocolate cake
And wonder if they'll be a tomorrow
And will they ever see their home and their family
Or will they ever be back home
And boys who never learned to pray
Look to the heavens everyday
And stumble through a simple little prayer
And ask the Lord above
To send them home to the ones they love
Oh God I hope they make it home
And every day some young man dies
And in the night some young girl cries
He'll never hear his baby's laughter
He'll never ever see his home and his family
Or what he's done for you and me
But I guess he's on his way back home