Uncle Tom and James Roland are heroes

Published 8:08 am Tuesday, May 29, 2012

While many of us enjoyed barbecues with family and friends Monday on Memorial Day, I hope we also took some time out to remember and honor the many veterans who fought and died to preserve our country’s many freedoms.

I thought about my Uncle Tom Wight, my dear late mother’s brother who was killed in Salerno, Italy, while serving with the 82nd Airborne in World War II.

While Uncle Tom was killed before I was born, my mother told my brother Tom and me many inspiring stories about him while we were growing up.

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There was another late veteran hero who I got to know, while growing up in Cairo. His name was James Roland and he was killed while serving in Vietnam.

James worked as a car hop in my dear late father’s drive-in restaurant in Cairo during the 1960’s.

A lot of drive-in restaurants used car hops who hooked food trays on customers’ car windows back then because drive-thru windows had not yet gotten popular.

James was a bright young man, who I am sure would have made his mark in life if he had survived Vietnam.

I am also sure many of my readers had similar remembrances Monday of late fallen family members and friends who made the ultimate sacrifice and are heroes to them, like Uncle Tom and James Roland are to me.

We should remember them all in our prayers, not only while we enjoy our barbecues and sporting events each Memorial Day, but every day throughout the year as well.

They are all heroes and they and their present day brothers-in-arms should be in our prayers daily.

My dear friend Jim Walker, who lives in Jacksonville, Fla., and is retired from Bell South, was in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam era and told me of some harrowing experiences he withstood while serving several temporary tours of duty there.

If we think of Memorial Day as just another Monday holiday from work, we are missing the point.

Sports writers, like myself, often wrongly refer to sports stars in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer and other sports as heroes, but they are not.

The real heroes are the brave men and women of our armed forces who fight daily to defend the many freedoms we enjoy as Americans.

Joe Crine is the sports editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at justin.schuver@thepostsearchlight.com.