Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Memorial Day and Thoughts on Freedom

We have a valuable gift, one not wrapped and tied with ribbons. It is intrinsic to America and our constitutional way of life. The gift is costly. The gift is freedom and it has been bought with blood and tears, life and limbs, sacrifice and abnegation.

Memorial Day is a time of reflection on aspects of freedom, its cost in lives and in sacrifice, not only in those who bore arms and met death in service, but the families who suffer through terrible losses.

When some casualties of military service were returned to Choestoe for memorial rites, I was young. But the impression made on me of how young men laid down their lives was deeply imbedded within. I remember the funeral service for James Jasper Hunter (August 16, 1923-December 5, 1945). He was a cousin who died not in battle but as a result of a transfer truck accident. Multiple family members and community people gathered to mourn on that cold, dark winter day when his casket lay ready to be lowered into the grave. Our pastor, the Rev. Claud Boynton, gave accolades of Jasper's service, of his dying young but heroically. Then later, another member of the same family, William Jack Hunter (Sept. 2, 1932 - August 5, 1954) died at sea. Both Jasper and Jack were sons of William Jesse Hunter (1886- 1982) and Sadie Collins Hunter (1900-1979).

Brothers James Jasper Hunter and William Jack Hunter were in military service when they died. They were willing to lay down their lives for their country, but were not killed in battle.

Later, even after the major conflicts of World War II had ended or were drawing to a close, another of our Choestoe boys, James Ford Lance (March 14, 1927 - January 12, 1946) was returned for burial. We gathered at Chostoe's Salem Methodist Church to mourn with his family and bid farewell to yet another young man who met death while in the service of his country. He was laid to rest in Union Memory Gardens at Blairsville.

There were others in what we now call "The Greatest Generation" who were among Union County's war dead from World War II. Having been present for some of the funerals, my young mind was trying to sort out the meaning of freedom and the price paid for it. War is no respecter of persons. The young take up arms. Some die. The parents of those laid to rest grieve and wonder at the high cost of liberty.

Union County has a stately and impressive War Memorial dedicated in 1995. On the monument is a quotation from William Shakespeare (from his Henry V): "But we…shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother."

The monument lists names of those who lost their lives In the Indian Wars, the Mexican War, the War Between the States including both Federal and Confederate soldiers (a list not complete yet, but longer than the lists for all other wars combined); World War I., World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. I am not sure, but plans for the War Memorial no doubt include listings from the current Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Since much emphasis is now placed on "The Greatest Generation," those who fought in and lost their lives in World War II, 1941- 1946, I list below those whose names appear on that memorial marker. Union County lost twenty two sons in that conflict. We pause to salute their memory and to offer thanks for the sacrifice of their lives for freedom.

Akins, Herbert J.

Dyer, Tommy A.

Hooper, W. C.

Rogers, Thomas J.

Anderson, Beecher L.

Everett, Frank J.

Lance, James F.

Sullivan, John C.

Barnes, Clyde N.

Gregory, Arlie

Marr, Charles L.

Summerour, Robert L.

Burnette, Monroe, Jr.

Grizzle, Garnie L.

Owenby, H. J.

Wilson, Wroodrow L.

Davenport, James U.

Grizzle, Garnie L.

Plott, J. B.

Dover, John G.

Harkins, Waymond

Rogers, Dale C.

The honorable William Gladstone, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1868-1894 wrote: "Show me the manner in which a nation or community cares for its dead, and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender sympathies for its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals."

Resource: I am grateful to David Friedly of Blairsville for information from the Union County War Memorial and for the picture with this article.

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published May 28, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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