SIDNEY — Every day that you wake up free is going to be a good day.
David Taylor, a Vietnam War veteran, retired colonel and author, used freedom as a main theme as he spoke to a group of students, fellow veterans and community members at Custenborder Field Friday morning.
“And where does that freedom come from? Well the answer is in the names of the fallen on the Vietnam Wall. Who gave their all. And the veterans standing in front of me and around me,” he said.
As 1,000 American flags blew in the wind and the AVTT-TWF Vietnam Memorial replica wall stood erect nearby, Taylor spoke about how the veterans have kept us free in the cold war and armed conflicts to insure freedom for us all.
“Our freedom to fail, our freedom to succeed, and our freedom to try, came from millions of ordinary citizens who saw it as their duty to serve and not to be served,” he said.
Taylor said that soldiers make their sacrifice so that American citizens can live in peace; so the people completely unaware of the gathering today, going about their everyday lives, are free to do just that.
He spoke about friends he lost in battle and how it could have easily been him.
“Some have said we served with a professional spirit, but young men of 18 and 19 are professional at nothing. Certainly not managing meeting the meaning of life with death as many had to do,” he said.
He talked about core values that the students listening to him should strive to reach: honor, dignity and self control.
“On a day like today, with the wall before us, we need to remember that all these deaths from Vietnam and all the wars, should be looked upon as payments, payments on a bill, a continuous bill known as freedom; and it is a bill that will never be paid in full.”
“And although we may question at times, why the payment was made, or perhaps that the payment was too high, or perhaps, it was made in the wrong place. That will never ever diminish the level of individual sacrifice given and has always been the same, never less,” he said.
Taylor said, you see that payment is continued to be payed today, to secure your freedom, this time in the war on global terrorism.
As he continued to address the students in the crowd, he said, it’s important you distinguish between celebrities and heroes.
He said, heroes are distinguished by achievement. … and most of my heroes in life are on that wall.
“When we treat each other at school with respect, when we remember that our freedom to be at school came from the sacrifices of veterans, when we remember to make good choices, and when those choices include good moral values, we are reminding ourselves how to live,” Taylor said.
He said, yes, reading, math, etc., are important, but schooling is not only about information, it is also about identity. It’s about whom people say you are, who you say you are, and who you want to be.
“Today on this special occasion by the Vietnam wall, at the beginning of a new school year, it is a good time to remember to pattern yourselves after heroes. To be yourselves in the face of decisions you have to make everyday. To choose right over wrong, truth over convenience, and honesty over popularity,” Taylor said.
He added, as you enlarge your mind, enlarge your spirit.
Taylor finished by saying, their true memorial will be the future direction and culture of this nation that we continue to form from the sacrifices and the services of our veterans killed in war.
After, Taylor joined the fellow veterans in attendance in speaking to the students about their experiences in the military. They answered questions and tried to instill a bit of patriotism in the young, aspiring minds.
Taylor is a retired colonel, Special Forces U.S. Army Reserve who served in the Vietnam War as an infantry officer with the American (23rd) Infantry Division, where he was wounded twice and awarded the Silver Star. He is the author of, “Our War: The History and Sacrifices of an Infantry Battalion in the Vietnam War.” He resides in Medina, Ohio, with his wife, Susan, a former army nurse.
Reach this writer at 937-538-4825; follow on Twitter @SDNAlexandraN