Creswell’s Veterans Memorial will be silent this year.

This is a day for remembrance. It was established many years ago to honor the military service members from the “War to end all wars.” In other words, World War I. I’m not a historian, so it is quite possible that the day was meant to honor and remember injured and dead individuals from all past wars in which our nation had engaged.

Of course, we did not know personally any veterans from the Revolutionary War; they were long gone. But in my town in Oklahoma, in the 1930s, Civil War veterans, and families of veterans lost and injured who still resided there, were honored. That was more than 65 years ago.

Today, we honor veterans and their memory from WWII. That war was from 1941-45, inclusive. I know, because I was in it.

The service organizations such as the Veterans of Foriegn Wars, the American Legion, the Korean veterans, the Vietnam veterans organization and others – including the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, plus the retired military organizations – all honor those military heroes.

It is wonderful when people come up to veterans to say “thank you for your service” and especially when you recognize that the person saying thanks is sincere. When they say you are heroes, I make it a point to say, “Not me, the heroes are in the cemetery and they made the supreme sacrifice.”

I had many men and women serve with me in the Army and Air Force and a number of them were lost. Some in the training and some during transport to a war zone and some in combat. It was tough for me to return from a mission where we had engaged the enemy and to report that my buddy, my leader or my wing man had been shot down. But the most difficult thing was to have to tell someone he had not survived.

I’m sorry we won’t have the ceremony this year at the fire station because of the pandemic. A veteran would like to hear from you on this day. 

I remember those men, especially on Memorial Day. Thirty-two years of military service has not hardened me; I’m still a softy when I think of those glorious friends I lost. 

Colonel Richard Heyman (Ret.), who turns 96 on Memorial Day this year, flew combat missions during WWII, the Korean War and in Vietnam. He is a Creswell resident and a regular contributor to The Chronicle.