Happy Memorial Day from the Natchitoches Parish Journal.
Mr.Gates, it’s easy to see that you are truly a great American…You are from the great generation…We are in desperate need of the same American spirit today which sadly is almost non-existent. I to am a proud American citizen from the next generation…Today we have no other real American heroes than the American soldiers..At all cost sir, we must never ever forget the price of freedom. The brave men and women who have given their lives deserve NOTHING LESS THAN THE HIGHEST PRAISES THAT CAN BE BESTOWED ON THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES….May God continue to bless each of them….Sam Hesser.
The Memorial Day Program conducted by the Natchitoches Parish Veterans and Memorial Park Committee was a tremendous success! A HUGE THANK YOU to all those who helped to make it memorable for those that attended, and the families of those that lost loved ones in the line of duty! Natchitoches Parish has MUCH to be thankful for, and MANY people who give of their time to serve on a holiday weekend!
Each of these people, are the true WEALTH of our COMMUNITY and our COUNTRY!
May God continue to bless Natchitoches Parish and the U . S. A. ❤️🇺🇸❤️🇺🇸❤️🇺🇸
Thank you Donna, it was great seeing you yesterday. You al did a wonderful job putting this together!
Thank you, Scott! Glad you could be there! We had a lot of hands pulling this together, including city and parish employees! I can’t say enough about the good people we have In Natchitoches Parish! We are indeed BLESSED!!! 🗽⛪️🙏🏻🤗
Do you know a hero?
Usually we think of a hero as someone who is willing to put oneself in great harm’s way, perhaps facing death, for the benefit of others. Usually soldiers, police, and firemen who have performed beyond the call of duty come to mind when we think of heroes.
Well I personally know a true hero. He was a high school friend. His name was James Puckett. We attended Puckett High, a small rural school in Puckett Mississippi (I never knew of the ancestral relationship between his name and the town’s, if any). James and I often talked about our future. He was a year older (18) and a grade ahead of me.
The time was 1950 and the Korean War was at its height. One day James told me that he was dropping out of school and joining the Marines. I suggested he wait until he graduated and then join since a high school education might influence the possibility of advancement. But no, he was determined to go do his “part”. He told me he would see me when he came home on furlough after completing basic training.
About eight weeks later he did come home and rode his bike to my house dressed in his fatigues. We had a great discussion about his experiences, and I was somewhat envious. On leaving he said he couldn’t wait for Friday night when all the kids would gather at the movie house. Let me tell you a little about small rural towns in the 50s. Puckett had a population of 300 (The sign at the entrance to town said “Welcome to Puckett. Population 300 good friendly folks and a few old soreheads”). It had a movie house (to call it a theater would be a little grandiose). We thought it was great because before that, movies were shown in a tent. Movies were shown on Friday and Saturday nights (25 cent fee) and most school kids from town and surrounding area showed up well before movie time for socialization. In fact, many didn’t have the entrance fee, so it was the socialization that was the draw.
Well James walked up dressed in his dress Marine uniform and all the kids gathered round to hear him tell of his Basic Training experiences. He was so proud to be a Marine! I shall never forget the look of pride on his face that night and I believe the attention he received that night from all those young admirers helped him deal with what was to come.
James was shipped to Korea soon after reporting back to duty. He wrote to me several times talking about his combat experiences, never in a bragging way just a realistic way of describing the true nature of war. He talked about the suffering of the Korean people in the turmoil of war. He described how cold it was there. A southern country boy had never experienced that degree of cold. I often wondered if he had it to do over again, would he have made the same decision to volunteer to serve his country. After reading his letters, I am sure the answer is yes!
James would have graduated with the 1951 Class of Puckett High School. He was killed in combat on November 29, 1950 in Korea.
He was 18 years old
Today there are many young men and women stationed all over the world who are dedicated to keeping us safe and preserving our way of life. On this Memorial Day may we all remember and honor those who are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Do you often think about how blessed we are to live in this country where we are free to be all that we can be? Well you should!
When the Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, I was eight years old. I guess I was a little too young to completely grasp the significance of that act but I remember my parents being very angry at the “dirty Japs” for killing so many American “boys”. We listened to the radio reports of the terrible destruction and the many lives lost. I remember the rebroadcast of President Roosevelt’s “Dastardly Attack” speech pronouncing that a declaration of war against Japan. Then a few days later, Germany declared war against America.
At school, the kids got involved by collecting scrap metal, aluminum cans and rubber, all of which were recycled and used to produce armaments. We scoured the neighborhood searching for anything that could be valuable to the war effort. The walls of the school were festooned with patriotic posters like “Rosie the Riveter” and unflattering pictures of Hitler and Tojo. We were very patriotic and couldn’t wait to grow up and join the military. Each time I saw a service man, I asked him to tell me about the battles he had been in. Most didn’t want to talk about the battles but wanted to talk about devastating effects on the poor people of the country.
The movies got involved in the war effort and began to produce lot of patriotic war movies. Even the cartoons became involved and Dr. Seuss published many stories of Hitler and Tojo being defeated by our forces.
A rationing program was established that set limits on the amount of gas, food and clothing consumers could purchase. Families were issued ration stamps that were used to buy their allotment of everything from meat, sugar, butter, vegetables, fruit to gas, tires, clothing and fuel oil. I have some of those ration stamps that my father-in-law had saved. Families were encouraged to plant “Victory Gardens”. At the time, we had a tiny back yard but Mama had a Victory Garden with tomatoes, turnips, etc. With so many things rationed, that little Victory Garden went a long way in supplementing our diet.
I remember that early in the war, our forces were not doing well. America was not prepared for war and prospects for winning did not look promising. When I overheard Mama and Dad talk about what losing would mean, I was afraid. But then things began to turn in our favor and my fears went away. Uncle Claude came for a visit before being sent overseas to join the conflict. He was dressed in his uniform and looked so sharp! He later drove his tank ashore on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. When he returned from the war, he gave me a German officer’s dress dagger that he had captured from a German officer. I have it framed on the wall of my den.
The World War II years were both traumatic and exciting years for me. Kids of those years learned what patriotism was all about. We said the Pledge of Allegiance proudly and we stood to sing the National Anthem with hands over our hearts. We probably loved this country more than any other generation to follow. The entire country united in the common cause to win a war that was forced upon us. Do you realize that WWII was the last war we truly won.
This great country was founded by rugged individualists who were escaping tyranny and determined not to be subservient to tyrants again. On this Memorial Day, we should concentrate on the evil forces attempting to tear our country apart and remember the ultimate sacrifice so many paid to keep us free. We should start thinking about how to become united again for the common cause of protecting all the virtues outlined in the Constitution.
As the Lee Greenwood song says, “I am proud to be an American”!
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