Letter To The Editor: Bowling Green Reader Shares Pleasant Experience From Local Memorial Day Ceremony
On Monday May 27, 2019, I was fortunate to be in the audience to hear the guest speaker for The Edmonson County Memorial Day Remembrance Services for the county's men and women who had served their country in the Wars of the Twentieth Century. I came to hear the speaker, Mr. Leon Tarter, tell of his experiences in World War II while serving with an Infantry Company immediately following the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944.
Tarter's assignment as a scout for the Infantry Company took him on into Europe just ahead of the main thrust of the US Forces. Mr. Tarter's recollection of his experiences during that time were astounding, and his wonderful way with words and his candid look at what he experienced in those months made it a riveting story for both adult and younger listeners. Tarter was indeed the "centerpiece" of Edmonson County's Memorial Day Celebration, and I was glad that so many young people were in the crowd that day to hear that great story. But in addition to the speech made so well by Mr. Tarter, and with such good humor interspersed with really horrifying experiences he related; there were other things that made me glad to be in Brownsville that day.
Just before the ceremony began, I had walked down the halls of the Edmonson County Courthouse. I was amazed and impressed to see the very large collection of pictures of the men from that county who had served in the U.S. Military in each of the wars of the 20th Century: World Wars One and Two, Korea, and Vietnam. It seemed to me that Edmonson County had a huge number of men serving during that time; especially from a county with a smaller population than many in Kentucky. Perhaps I simply do not know how many other counties in Kentucky sent the same percentages of its young men into the nation's wars. Or could Edmonson County be more patriotic than some other counties? Something I once read flashed into my mind as I walked by the pictures of the men and women from Edmonson County who had served in the nation's wars. The quote I recalled was written by author Rick Atkinson, who wrote the famous book about West Point: "The Long Gray Line". Atkinson said, "In 1950, two thirds of office corps [at West Point] were drawn from farms or towns with fewer than 2,500 people. American values are still intact there."
As the day in Brownsville progressed, the Boy Scouts, who had many, many badges for service on their uniforms, were presenting the colors, helping the elderly, like me, to seats, and performing the duties assigned to them, with great courtesy, I wanted to give them each a special badge. Add the choir of little children singing such things as "American Tears, the amazing "singing sheriff," singing the closing hymn, the living veterans of the U.S. Wars of The 20th Century in the audience, and the general kindness and patriotic spirit of the entire community at the event, and I am sure that the author, Rick Atkinson, would recognize a community where "American values are still intact."
I was not surprised to learn that the county also values good education and that the Edmonson County Middle School has recently produced an award-winning academic team this year.
The visit to Brownsville on Memorial Day weekend was an uplifting and inspirational day --- and although there are now probably more citizens living in Edmonson County than in 1950 when author Atkinson said that "American values are still intact in the small towns of America," the evidence on Memorial Day in Brownsville, Kentucky, in 2019 gives one the feeling that those values still exist in small-town America.
Mary M. Lucas, Bowling Green, Kentucky.