Salute to Veterans
A Salute: those who serve, have served the nation during wars and peacetime.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - the date that ended the first world war - Clinton paused, interrupted by just one short train, for an observance of the nation’s military veterans.
A crowd gathered around The Depot to hear the Mayor, Bob McLean, introduce his brother, Donald McLean, COL., U.S. Army (Retired) for remarks about the nation’s commitment to freedom, and the price that sometimes is paid for that freedom. Afterward, city staff handed out to veterans in attendance special notes from the students of Clinton High School and a City of Clinton “thank you” message.
Mayor McLean led the Pledge of Allegiance and the Invocation, saying, “We give thanks that we are able to gather today as free people and speak Your name. I ask that You heal the divisions and wounds that separate us from each other with Your love and peace.”
A 35-year military veteran and Presbyterian College graduate, guest speaker Donald McLean said he was fortunate to experience a swingback from the way America’s veterans of the Vietnam Era were “horribly” treated on their return home. Many could not wear their uniforms of the country they served, he said, even though more than 58,000 gave their lives and many others suffered emotionally.
“I am grateful that our nation has matured and now acknowledges the many wrongs that were committed against these courageous veterans,” he said.
McLean remembered medical missions around the world, nation building where roads and schools were built and basic services were restored, deployment and “having good friends say they would pray for me and take care of my family while I was gone.” McLean remembered attending numerous memorial services for those service members who were lost. He recalled commanding a unit in Puerto Rico -- “those soldiers made me very, very proud of serving with them.”
He remembered the turnover of the Panama Canal -- and remembered reporting to the U.S. Southern Command (Southern Hemisphere) for the first time on Sept. 12, the very day after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.
“I remember Guantanemo Bay in a containment facility I helped build and staff that held some of the most dangerous and highly trained killers in the world,” McLean said. He remembered The Haiti Crisis when 40 Marines at the palace fence line faced down a well-armed mob trying to take control away from the newly elected government.
“I remember my retirement in July 2007 and my mixed feelings about the ceremony at that time,” McLean said.
“Without exemption these many experiences have shaped me into who I have become today, and I feel so incredibly honored to have served this country we share. I am proud to be an American with freedom and opportunities most of the world can only dream of; freedoms bought and paid for by men and women far better than me. I believe with all my heart our veterans are truly a national treasure. Ordinary people performing extraordinary and sacrificial services for love of country and their comrades.”
Col. McLean said Military Values are his personal values:
never accepting defeat, never leaving a fallen comrade, loyalty respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
America cannot honor veterans without acknowledging the sacrifice of their families, he said. “Veterans cannot do what they do without the strong support of their families,” McLean said. “On this very special day I pray God continues to bless the veterans their families and this great nation.”
The City of Laurens’ Veterans Day observance was conducted in The Ridge recreation center (it had rained the night before, and forecasters were unsure about storms for last Wednesday, as well). Clinton’s observance is on the city Facebook page. The Laurens County Government has a special Veterans Day message for public display on its website.