Fort Smith honors veterans

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Local residents endured the cold autumn air to honor those who fought for America on Sunday afternoon.

The Fort Smith National Cemetery held its Veterans Day Program at 2 p.m. Sunday. Marshall Murphy, director of the cemetery, said it was 100 years ago Sunday that World War I came to an end in 1918.

“So today, we want to celebrate the humble men and women who understand the call of duty, the meaning of honor and the values of this nation,” Murphy said. “They did not, and do not, serve for glory or fame. They serve to preserve our way of life. For this, we honor them here today.”

Murphy said about 6 percent of the American population have served in the armed forces and far less than 1 percent serve in active duty today. Murphy cited a quote by Winston Churchill and said it holds as true for America now as it did for England during World War II: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

“Presently, more than 1.4 million Americans are on active duty,” Murphy said. “They serve in harm’s way to defend the safety of 320 million Americans and bring freedom to millions more around the world. They have brought down tyrants and fought to liberate nations. Through their sacrifice, they’re making this nation and the world more secure. They are the few to whom we all owe so much.”

The keynote speaker for the event was veteran Ricky F. Young, who talked about two veterans he knew, one from the Korean War and the other from World War II, and the experiences they shared with him concerning their respective conflicts. Afterward, he said he and those present at the ceremony had to tell people about these veterans.

“Our young people, like Winston Fulmer and the MOAA (Military Officers Association of America) organization that are teaching these kids about that beautiful flag, we have to try harder,” Young said. “We have to get the point across to this place we’re in today. We have to tell them about these situations because they won’t know if we don’t tell them. … There won’t be any kneeling, or there won’t be any of this because if we teach these young folks at these sporting events and whatever it is what that flag means, they will probably take it on themselves to do the right thing, amen? Let’s hope that’s our goal.”

Young ended his speech by singing a rendition of “America the Beautiful.” He was accompanied by Jimmy Atchison on acoustic guitar.

Young graduated from Northside High School on June 2, 1972, with three years in JROTC. He left for Army basic training five days later at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Young worked for DuBois Chemical Co. out of Cincinnati and later as division manager for southern territories for Diversey Corp. of Detroit. He also worked for the Department of Workforce Services, during which he helped veterans gain employment, and served as the Sebastian County veteran service officer.

Young retired after 21 years in the Arkansas Army National Guard in 2nd Battalion C-Battery 142nd Field Artillery, the program states. He was deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1990 to 1991 for Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He also served as state commander for the Department of Arkansas Disabled American Veterans in 2012-13, and served as legislative officer, two terms as state chaplain and one term as state judge advocate. Young was a founding member of the Military Officers Association of America, Darby Chapter, and is a member of Voices for America’s Troops, among other organizations.