Opinion: Memorial Day is a time of remembrance
May 24, 2020
Editor’s note: Andy F. Nazario is vice commander of American Legion Post 31, Portales, and chaplain for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9515, Portales. Following is a portion of the remarks he was scheduled to make at the Portales Memorial Day celebration, which was canceled due to coronavirus restrictions.
Through Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3, God said, “There is a time for war and a time for peace….”
Roosevelt County has grieved the loss of men and women serving in conflicts.
Two Roosevelt County men’s stories began when they were called to service in World War II.
Bronze Star recipient Douglas B. Stone, a cashier at Portales National Bank, returned home on July 22, 1945. In WWII, he fought in North Africa and Italy. He was the lone survivor of his original company.
Louis Lane “Top” Preuit was a cowboy on his father’s ranch west of Milnesand. He was taken prisoner in the Philippines, survived the Bataan Death March, and was later moved to Japan. He remained in a prison camp until the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki bringing the war to an end.
After the war was over and both had returned home, Stone called Preuit to the bank in Portales.
When Preuit arrived, Stone showed him a piece of brown paper. It was an IOU that Preuit had written on a piece of a brown paper sack.
Preuit had given the note to a person named Hoard in the prison camp in exchange for Japanese money to bribe the guards with for food and medicine.
It read, “Pay to Hoard. $50.00 Portales National Bank, Portales, New Mexico. Top Preuit.”
Tears came to Preuit’s eyes as he held the scrap of brown paper, which he’d last seen in a Philippine prison camp and remembered the pain, suffering, and death he’d witnessed during his 3 1/2 years as a Japanese prisoner.
Stone’s eyes watered also as he remembered his men who spent the war in a German prison camp.
Our past American Legion Post Commander, Joe Blair, a World War II U.S. Navy hero and now resting with the Lord, stated in a letter to the editor on Dec. 24, 2005: “This is a letter of remembrance, in remembrance of the 2,150 men and women who have given their lives, and the wounded in the Iraqi war. I grieve for them and I grieve for their families.
“In remembrance of the 406,000 men and women who died, and the thousands wounded in WWII. I grieve for them. I grieve for their families.
“In remembrance of the 55,000 men and women who gave their lives, and the wounded during the Korean conflict. I grieve for them and I grieve for their families.
“In remembrance of the 109,000 men and women who gave their lives, and the thousands wounded in the Vietnam era. I grieve for them and I grieve for their families.”
A common feeling among all these is the grieving they went through because of conflicts … the many lives lost.
I can still see Joe Blair sitting in the hardware store with his unlit Swisher Sweets cigar, as he spoke of his concern of the lack of coverage of WWII and other past conflicts and the loss of friends and families in those conflicts.
Blair closed his letter with this quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “We, born to freedom, and believing in freedom, are willing to fight to maintain freedom. We, and all others who believe as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.”
Joe Blair, Douglas B. Stone, Top Preuit, and all who served are passionate about the ones they served with and the sacrifices they gave for your freedoms today.
They gave their tomorrows, for you to have your today. They gave their lives, so you can live yours in freedom. Hold it close to your heart and grieve with them over the willingness to give their all for you. To live on our feet, rather than serve on our knees.
Remember them, remember their stories, tell your children, tell your grandchildren, your friends. Tell it to whoever will listen. Let us not forget those heroes that rest here.
Yet also as Gen. George Patton said during a Memorial Day speech many years ago, “We make a mistake in mourning our fallen — we should rather thank God that men such as these lived.”
Oh, God, keep the flag flying high.
That is why we have a Memorial Day, not for sales in stores.
As is written in the Navy Hymn, “Eternal Father, strong to save, hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril. Hold them close to Thee.”
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