Programs honor veterans
The three-day holiday weekend was a time to remember veterans, both living and those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Folks in Elizabeth started their Memorial Day service as they do every year, with a parade through town.
Several entries, including grand marshal Lloyd Bailey, fire trucks, politicians, floats, four-wheelers, dirt bikes, golf carts and horses, lined up along S.R. 11 east of town (one driver of a float was gracious enough to give a reporter and her entourage a lift to the parade starting line) then made their way west to near the entrance of Rose Hill Cemetery on the town’s west edge. Many of the town’s residents and their out-of-town relatives and friends lined the street.
Once Bob Walsh had announced all the entries at the town’s four-way, many of the spectators, as well as parade entrants, made their way to the cemetery for the program put on by the American Legion.
The Rev. Richard Goodwin served as emcee. Music was provided by The Volunteers, and Susie Eastridge sang the National Anthem. Servicemen and women, both past and present, were recognized, as were law enforcement officers, firefighters and medical personnel.
Lee Cable of Elizabeth, a staff writer for the Clarion News, talked about this year’s honored veteran, Lloyd Bailey.
Bailey was drafted into the Army in January 1943, when he was 19. He attended basic training at Camp Swift in Texas, then had additional training at Camp Polk in Louisiana. From there, Cable said, Bailey was sent to Florida for amphibious training then his unit was sent to Virginia, where they loaded onto ships and were sent overseas. The ships docked at Liverpool, England, and the soldiers were taken by train to the southern coast of the English Channel, where they received more training.
At the time, none of the soldiers knew what they were training for, but Bailey told Cable that they knew Hitler was dropping bombs nightly on London. The Army brought in numerous heavy equipment, including crawler cranes that no one knew how to operate, Bailey had said.
However, back at home, Bailey had a little experience on a friend’s crane, so he got the operator’s manual, studied it at night, then taught six other soldiers how to use the cranes.
‘That’s just plain old American ingenuity,’ Bailey told Cable. ‘That’s why American soldiers are better than any other soldiers in the world.’
Cable told how Bailey and his unit were quarantined in a ‘tent city’ about two weeks before they invaded Omaha Beach. Bailey recalled seeing ‘nothing but ships’ out on the ocean as the loaded LSTs made the 48-mile trip across the English Channel and down the coast.
‘ … there was a steep hill,’ Bailey said. ‘The Germans were dug in on that hill. They had been waiting on us for two years. There was over 4,000 of us killed that first day.’
But additional soldiers kept arriving, and Bailey and the other crane operators stayed on the beach, loading equipment on trucks as it came in from the ships.
‘I guess I could have died there,’ Bailey said. ‘But I think the Lord just didn’t want that to happen.’
Later, Bailey and others were sent inland to join in the Battle of the Bulge, which was already underway. Bailey said it was cold and they had to sleep in their trucks.
‘The weather was terrible,’ he said. ‘We finally got to an old leather factory and took shelter there. The next day was Christmas and somehow the Army had turkey sent in to us that day.’
Before Bailey and others in his unit could reach their destination, the Battle of the Bulge was over. Now their orders were to go to Japan.
‘But then, they dropped the bombs on Japan,’ Bailey said. ‘And that stopped the war. That was a good thing. There would have been millions killed if the war had gone on.’
Bailey was discharged in January 1946. After returning to the United States, he drove a dump truck and attended vocational school, thanks to the GI Bill. He became a shop instructor before starting his own business, Diesel Injection Service Co.
‘The way I feel about the military,’ Bailey told Cable, ‘if you get there and you get back, it’s a good experience. But that was a different time back then and a different type of war. Everyone pitched in and helped … ‘
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Veterans Memorial in Corydon
A new memorial was dedicated Saturday morning at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Corydon ‘as an honor to all veterans,’ said Army veteran Vaughn Timberlake. ‘I think it is entirely appropriate and fitting that this memorial is placed in Cedar Hill.
‘So many veterans are buried here, and I am sure each of us have family members or friends who are in that number,’ said the Corydon resident to the group who gathered for the annual program sponsored by Old Capitol VFW Post 2950.
Timberlake said it’s sad that ‘the overwhelming majority of Americans consider Memorial Day as nothing more than a day off’ from work.
‘Not many veterans will hear a thank you today even though thank you’s are not expected and in many ways are not important,’ he said. ‘No, today is about reflection, remembrance and re-dedication.’
While, percentage wise, fewer Americans know the true meaning and privilege of actively serving their country as part of the armed forces, Timberlake said, ‘It is now more important than ever that we remember and pay tribute to those who serve, present and past, and to the best of our abilities make sure that others never forget that their lives, and their livelihood, were made better by those who answered the call to serve and to defend freedom.
‘Many have made great sacrifices to preserve our way of life,’ he said. ‘We honor them here today.’
Jim Smith, manager of the cemetery, said he has a yearly project, which has included erecting flag poles, planting trees and installing benches. He had begun work on a veterans monument last year but decided to put it off until this year.
‘It was probably more appropriate this year’ for something of that magnitude, he said, because Cedar Hill Cemetery is 200 years old this year.
Many of the 6,000-plus buried in the 67-1/2-acre cemetery are soldiers, Smith said.
In the future, he hopes to landscape the area where the monument is located and put in a sidewalk that runs between the cemetery roadway and the marker.
Timberlake called this Memorial Day ‘not only a commemoration of the past, but a pledge for the future, as we pursue the course of peace, freedom, liberty and justice.
‘In pursuit of these goals, as was so vividly brought to our attention in 2001, this nation has to pay the price for freedom and security,’ he said. ‘These are burdens which must be borne, but Americans have willingly borne them before and they will not flinch from the task now. Our enemies cannot break our spirit; they cannot destroy our principles; they cannot diminish our courage; and they will never take away our freedom.’
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