“American fighting spirit” celebrated at Depot

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Melissa Freeman | Robertson County News Veterans gather at the Hearne Depot to celebrate Memorial Day with guest speaker Mike Southerland.

Over fifty Robertson County residents and friends gathered at the Hearne Depot on Monday to remember those who have served—veterans of the United Stated Armed Forces and particularly those who have guaranteed our freedoms by fighting to defend them.

The commemoration began with a prayer led by American Legion Chaplain Calvin Woods, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the presenting of several awards by Chuck Carlson, the Hearne American Legion Commander and Robertson County Veterans Services Representative.

Carlson awarded this year’s Legion scholarships to Carla Hernandez of Hearne High School and Zack Vaughn of Mumford High School—finalists out of 10 or so candidates in each school.

Both plan to enter medicine, Carla as a Masters Degree pediatric nurse, Zack as a medical doctor. Carlson wishes to thank Prosperty Bank for their assistance and generosity with the legion scholarship fund.

Camp Hearne Executive Director Cathy Lazarus presented a re-conditioned plaque, created first by the Hearne High School Class of 1940, to remember five classmates killed in service to their country—most dying in action or training for action in World War II. Lazarus’ spoke of her parents’ service in WWII and introduced a new Camp Hearne display — “America’s Secret Weapon” — remembering American women’s contributions to the War effort. The renovated memorial plaque and the display can be seen in the Camp Hearne barrack, Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Next, Legion member Tommy Reynolds presented fellow member Bob Stovall an award for 38 years of service to the Hearne post, and Carlson presented awards to Lazarus and Melissa Freeman, Camp Hearne Program Director, for their service to the Legion.

Beginning the program part of the event, Sgt. Major Derrick Simpson, stationed at Fort Hood, read General Eisenhower’s address to the troops at D-Day, reminding guests of this year’s 70th Anniversary of the Allied invasion of Europe which began on June 6, 1944.

Simpson’s reading was followed by the morning’s address, delivered by retired Lt. Colonel Mike Southerland, former Bryan City Councilman and VietNam War helicopter pilot.

Southerland talked about the American fighting spirit—“something we all have”—and how it produced the men and women who defeated the Axis Powers and fought America’s wars before and after.
He made a fascinating comparison between Superman and Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of WWII, to prove his point that calling service men and women “heroes” may be a mistake. They are really much more than that.

Superman, he said, is the standard American hero in many ways, but he gets to sleep in an air-conditioned room in a comfortable bed, then work in an air-conditioned office—heated in the winter. Murphy, like other GIs, was sleeping in a foxhole—in rain, snow, mud; in the heat and in the cold.

Superman can rescue whomever he pleases. Murphy, from Hunt County, Texas, had no choice. Superman is over 6 ft. and muscular. Murphy was 5’5” and turned down the first time he tried to enlist—he was underweight. He lied about his age to get in.

Superman is mature—a full grown super man. Murphy was probably 19 when he earned the Medal of Honor. He forced two reduced German divisions—one a tank division with 6 tanks—to retreat, taking out a significant number of the attached infantry division.

Superman may have X-ray vision but Murphy had the American fighting spirit. People with that spirit are more than heroes and “they should be more highly regarded.”

Southerland concluded his talk by urging people to be more aware of service men with PTSD. It’s real, he told guests, and people who suffer with it—some taking their own lives—need all the help they can get. Standing beside them and acknowledging their service with more than an occasional “thank you for your service” is very important, he said. “We must stay connected.”

Carlson echoed Southerland’s comments. He added that he was available to help veterans and that he had the resources in most cases. Carlson said he believed that the Veterans Administration would correct the problems that have led to veterans’ deaths while waiting for treatment.

In the final moments of the event, Carlson recognized Ed Luster, Hearne VFW commander, and thanked guests for coming out to honor American’s soldiers, marines and sailors.

Melissa Freeman | Robertson County News

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