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Freedoms under siege, retired general says
Bullitt ceremony honors veterans

Louisville Courier-Journal | May 31, 2006
By Darla Carter

A ceremony to honor veterans became a call to action yesterday as a retired Air Force general urged the crowd not to let freedoms that he treasures slip away.

"There's two wars going on: There's a war in Iraq and there's a war right here at home, and we may have our eye on the wrong place," retired Maj. Gen. Carl D. Black told a crowd at Highland Memory Gardens in Bullitt County.

"Today, we're trying to remove God from everything," Black said. "We're trying to do away with the Pledge of Allegiance, remove prayer from schools, remove prayer from the Armed Forces. … I say there's something wrong with where we are today, and we better wake up and start looking and see just exactly what it is."

Black, a Vietnam veteran, was the featured speaker at the annual Memorial Day weekend service sponsored by Chapter 454 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

The ceremony, which is in its 14th year, honors veterans of all wars.

Myrtle Martin of Louisville attended the ceremony in memory of her son Clayborn W. Ashby Jr., who died in the Vietnam War in 1968, when he was 21.

She said Vietnam veterans have not always been given their due, so being able to have a ceremony like yesterday's meant a lot.

The service included a 21-gun salute and the laying of several wreaths in front of The Final LZ (landing zone), a memorial to Vietnam veterans.

If people want to maintain the ideas and ideals that veterans fought for and that continue to make this country great, Black said, "you and I and the younger generations coming on must get involved."

"Today we have come to pay respects to our fallen heroes and our fallen comrades -- but not that alone," Black said. "… Today, we've come to receive the torch, to hold it high, to keep the faith and to pass it from generation to generation," as has been done since the nation was founded.

Only then can "Rest in peace" truly be uttered, Black said.

After the speech, Black said in an interview that many parents, schools and churches seem to have become apathetic about passing certain values on to young people.

"They just take for granted all of the freedoms that we have and think, 'Aw, they were just given to us.' "

Instead, they should be teaching youths "the basics," he said. "Teach them respect for the flag. Teach them respect for themselves. Tell them the history."

Lisa Goad, a Louisville parent who attended the ceremony, thought he had a point.

There are "a lot of kids nowadays that are not respectful, and I just think it's something important for me to give to my children," said Goad, whose sons Eric, 10, and Brandon, 13, were at the ceremony.

Brandon is a member of Boy Scout Troop 262, which took part in the event. He said he believes, "If you're going to live in this country, you need to learn what it (the flag) stands for and respect that."

Matt Davis, who is 14 and a fellow Boy Scout from Louisville, said that attending the event and teaching younger children to have reverence for the flag "shows respect to all the veterans that have passed away."

 

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