One Of Many
Inside the Outdoors, May 27
, 2011

The following story you are about to read is fictional. However, after reading it, you may come to the conclusion that you know or have heard of certain fellows that have fit the description of the lad about whom I’ve spoken. He may have lived next store, down the street or in a neighboring town. So let me begin.

Johnny Harbourre was born in a small town. He and his family lived in a middle-class neighborhood at the end of Briarwood Drive. He had two older sisters and one younger brother. Johnny’s father was a barber, his mother a homemaker. They were Methodists by faith.

Public schooled all the way through 12th grade, the youth did very well academically. He was very popular in school, was athletically inclined and popular with all his classmates.

After graduating from high school, he attended Ohio State University where he majored in engineering. Again, he did remarkably, maintaining a four-point average throughout his four years of higher education.

It didn’t take long for Johnny to find a job once he graduated from his alma mater. Beaselly, Beaselly and Beaselly located in Cumidin, Nebraska, scooped him right up a month after he had gotten his diploma. He was excited, for all his worked paid off, and he had landed the type of job he always wanted and was very proud of that to boot.

After settling down and finding a nice place to live, Johnny got hit with a major setback he never saw coming. He was drafted into the armed services. Somehow, in the back of his mind, he knew there existed that chance that such a thing might happen. If it did, he would be proud to stand up and serve his country. But as time went on over the years since the firm hired him, he put it out of his mind, because he was enjoying working so much.

So, it was off to the army. First he experienced boot camp and then he was sent overseas to stand up and fight as a soldier for United States of America, for what he thought was right in his eyes as well as his fellow comrades as well.

Month after month he fought hard, sometimes experiencing very hot heat, other times, going with little water and always looking over his back, fearing the enemy may be lurking nearby out of sight. He and the others were trained well and knew what was expected of them. He carried through his responsibilities well, even though there were some nights he went without sleep.

One day, he was told that his regiment would be allowed to go home for a short period to spend time with family and friends. That boosted the morale of all the fellows as they all looked forward to the big day. In a two-week period, 24 soldiers would be boarding an aircraft to fly across the Atlantic. There were dreams of visiting with former girl friends, going to the family church and eating home-cooked meals once again.

But all was for naught, for six of the soldiers, including the outstanding engineer student who attended Ohio State, were killed when they stepped on a land mine just three days before they were to board the dark, evergreen-colored transport cargo plane.

This young man was one of many who lost his life for his country. We can think back to wars even before I was born when soldiers lost their lives fighting for what they believed.

I have heard stories pertinent to the Battle of Normandy, World War I, and World War II where many men and women lost their lives fighting for the country they love so much. And even today, we watch television and hear on new reports where almost the heroes of our country and coming home in caskets aboard similar cargo planes.

Many of you, I know, have visited Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. To see white crosses, as far as the eye can see, is truly a revelation upon itself, that courageous residents of all ages fought, died and were laid to rest among many.

We need not go that far to find veterans who have given their lives for our country. Each cemetery in every town has members of the community who have been laid to rest who participated in wars going back to the 1800’s and possibly further than that.

In Latrobe, on Wood Street is a small but special cemetery where soldiers of the community are buried. It is a very special plot of land that anyone can visit and recognize those who have given their lives for our country.

Monday, May 30, is Memorial Day. This is a holiday we set aside to honor those men and women who gave their lives for our country. Let’s remember what this day is all about. Yes, people will be amusing themselves. I can’t stop what they plan to do this day. But keep in mind, someone died in battle so you can have the freedoms we have today.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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