Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Memorial Day Message: 'Use Our Freedom Well'; Brunswick Observance Honors Those Who Paid Ultimate Price

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Memorial Day Message: 'Use Our Freedom Well'; Brunswick Observance Honors Those Who Paid Ultimate Price

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

BRUNSWICK | The 200 who attended the annual Memorial Day observance at Glynn County's historic courthouse were urged not just to remember those who died in defense of freedom but also to remember their lives, their relationships and their passions.

The hundreds of thousands of dead, Lt. Col. Charles F. West III told the crowd, shield us from feeling the humanity.

In delivering the Memorial Day address at the county's war memorials, the commander of the Georgia Air Guard's 224th Joint Communications Support Squadron related the story of Capt. Emil Kapaun, an Army chaplain, who died May 23, 1951, while a prisoner of war in North Korea.

"His first calling was to God," West said of the Catholic priest, and God called him to service in the Army.

After the Army invaded North Korea, the Chinese unexpectedly joined the fight and, rather than falling back with the noncombatants, Kapaun stayed to give comfort to wounded American troops, West said.

"He carried a Bible and holy water. Those were his weapons," West said.

Accounts of his confinement say that, although ill, Kapaun gave his food to others and did all he could to help his fellow POWs. In 2013, Kapaun was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

Knowing the stories of those who died helps us understand the loss, West said.

He spoke of the weight on those with family in the military.

"Every family lives in fear of hearing that knock on the door," West said.

And he also recognized the Gold Star families, those who have heard that knock and gotten the word a loved one had died.

"The families who display the folded flag in their home are never free from war," West said. "You bear a burden the rest of us cannot understand."

Dave Olender, chairman of the sponsoring Veterans Council of the Golden Isles, said that America also uses the day to recall the 48 million who have served their country, "but more importantly these who have sacrificed."

Olender spoke of Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political thinker and historian who wrote "Democracy in America." De Tocqueville came to America in hopes he could learn why America was so successful and explain it to his countrymen, Olender said. …

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