As we approach numerous Memorial Day ceremonies tomorrow, many East Texas veterans are remembering the service of fallen comrades and the many sacrifices of ordinary people over many campaigns. As flags commemorate Memorial Day weekend, veterans pause to remember friends lost in combat, and to remind everyone else just what Memorial Day really means.
"I'd like them to remember that thousands and thousands of boys that volunteered and went over there and fought and whipped them," said World War II Anzio veteran Herb Paul, 82, of Longview.
They say the terms hero and courage are overused, it really comes down to grit, and being willing to do what has to be done.
"We fought and we did what we had to do we did it because we wanted to do it. It wasn't because we had to but because we wanted to do it, and we aren't heroes. We're just doing what we're supposed to do," says Vietnam veteran Michael Eubank.
In every generation, it's only a relatively small part of the population that serves, answering the call from world wars to Iraq. Veterans painfully remember friends lost, those that have fought valiantly in so many campaigns.
"One young soldier I knew, all they had to ship home was one boot. That boy stepped on a claymore mine and that's all they had to send home," said Vietnam veteran Pete Floros.
"You remember them in a way you'll never remember anybody else. You remember them as a person who was with you or grew up with that just didn't come back," said Eubank.
At Lakeview Cemetery the graves of hundreds of veterans are marked with a small American flag. They were farmers, businessmen sometimes even kids out of high school. They left their homes and families to fight on foreign shores, jungles, deserts and the open seas. Their silent now but they leave a message for us all. Freedom will never die as long as a few are willing to fight for it.
Memorial Day observances in Longview take place at the Gregg County Courthouse at 11:00 a.m. and at Lakeview Cemetery at 2:00 p.m.