Our View: Those who serve bear a heavy weight | TheUnion.com

Our View: Those who serve bear a heavy weight

The Union Editorial Board

The stories from war have weight and are hard to carry.

These stories often stay hidden, unspoken. Maybe those carrying them saw little action. Maybe they saw plenty and don’t want to remember.

Others are more comfortable sharing their experiences. Those soldiers saw battle, genuine fighting, and need to talk about it. The weight pulls at them, and they want help shouldering it.

This community has proven many times it’s there to help carry that burden.

Some 200 people gathered this past Memorial Day at Memorial Park in Grass Valley. Plenty saw old friends, laughing as they spoke. Volunteers nearby prepared food in anticipation of the lunch that would follow the ceremony.

Silence crept in once 11 a.m. struck. What followed was an annual ceremony that commemorates and honors those who fought and died in our country’s service. Walking, bicycle and bus tours brought people to a series of plaques across Grass Valley and Nevada City. Each plaque holds a name of someone who died in service. Each one has a story we should never forget.

We have stories to share as well.

There was an Army infantryman who in 1968 found himself in Vietnam. Trained over three days to work with a scout dog, the infantryman alerted his fellow soldiers to ambush before it occurred.

The dog, Sam, never missed.

The experience brought more than a search for ambushes. It brought the infantryman into contact with people of many races, income levels, all walks of life and all 50 states. It was wonderful, in its own way.

A few years earlier an officer and his wife were stationed in Germany. The Cold War had grown hot, and the deployment was considered a suicide mission.

They went, all the same. Someone had to defend the country.

The station in Germany rhymes with the one in Vietnam a few years later. People formed friendships in foreign countries. Some last to this day. Reunions still occur and stories are shared.

In the past our country drafted men to serve. Now they join willingly. Regardless of the circumstances of their entry, their duty was the same. They followed orders, they obeyed, and we reap the benefits.

We should never forget that.

Everyone who’s worn the uniform, along with their spouses and relatives, have stories. It’s important we keep telling them.

Many people who’ve served have positive stories of the friends they met. Retired Army Master Sgt. Brian Comte, the keynote speaker at the Memorial Park ceremony, told attendees he smiled because his fellow warriors surrounded him that day.

They share a bond many of us will never know, and are weighed by memories we’re thankful to have never experienced.

Comte listed off a few names of people he knew, now deceased, at Monday’s ceremony. The smiles weren’t so easy then. Will Buck, the master of ceremonies and Army veteran, paused at times throughout the ceremony. So did a singer during one performance, the weight of the moment pressing down.

Attendees stayed silent while several yards away children ran and shouted on a playground. They and their parents didn’t attend the ceremony, instead celebrating Memorial Day in other ways.

They weren’t weighed down by military service. Others carry that burden for them.

Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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