Skip to comments.A Veterans Day Letter from Rick Perry
Posted on 11/11/2011 11:14:50 AM PST by casinva
A Veterans Day Message from Rick Perry
Today we celebrate the courage and sacrifice of all living veterans. They are the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage, love and devotion. They served something greater than themselves. They served the cause of freedom. And many to this day bear the scars of freedom, suffered on foreign battlefields, on the high seas and at high altitudes.
I served my country from 1972 to 1977 as a C-130 pilot in the United States Air Force. But I will be the first to tell you that my country has done more for me than I could ever offer in return. I never experienced the great horrors of war, though many I served with did. To me, they were the true heroes not just those who gave their lives, but all who gave themselves in service to our country.
Today another generation of Americans have answered the call of duty in Afghanistan, Iraq, and on missions we dont even know about today. Many have returned from those two conflicts forever changed by the experience of war. And today we are surrounded by generations of Americans who fought in previous conflicts: the first Persian Gulf War, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and throughout the Cold War. And though their numbers are dwindling, we still have with us the heroes of the Second World War. They include my father Ray Perry, and my father-in-law Dr. Joe Thigpen.
One relative on my wife Anitas side of the family I never had the honor of meeting Captain Jack Golden fought in World War II. Fortunately, though Jack is not with us anymore, we have his many letters written from battlefields overseas. And on this special day, I wanted to share a few excerpts with you, so we can all get a small glimpse into the life of one of our nations many warriors.
Five days after landing in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, Jack writes home with pride about the success of his Regiment at Omaha Beach, a tank destroyer division of the First Army, 16th Regiment in the First Division:
We landed in France and I guess you have heard that we did a good job. We really did. Our Regt. Fought better than I have ever seen them fight before. I am still giving them hell dad. June 11, 1944
But almost four months to the exact day after landing in France, following a long spell of inclement weather, and reports from home about production shortages, frustration is clearly starting to build in Jacks mind, and likely amongst all the men:
What is this stuff I read in the paper about the people at home getting ready for V-Day? If they were here with us they could understand just how long it will be before V-day I will say that if production slows down and shipment slows down much more we will be having another D-Day and not a V-Day. October 5, 1944
The emotions seem to vary greatly after four months of war in France. The bitterness of two weeks ago is replaced by the poignant expression of love from a son to his father a reminder that while he had experienced what no man should experience at any age, he was still just a 23-year old young man. Jack writes to his father:
Dear Dad: I received your letter of Oct 2 and was really glad to hear from you. Even though you dont write very often the letters you write do me a world of good. It makes me feel good all over
I am getting very anxious to see you too daddy. It has been nearly two years since I last saw you. I have been a lot of places and had lots of experiences but I have never forgotten what you once told me about praying. I have had lots of chances since that time. I think perhaps it has saved my life a few times. I also have not forgotten that I have the best mother and dad in the world. Anything I do is done because of the things you have taught me to do and to do the best I can to make you glad I am your son. October 20, 1944
Jacks reminiscing about home, and the recognition of his own mortality create a spiritual experience common among soldiers at war, as he prays for his own survival. And yet nothing can prepare a soldier for the loss of those close to you, as Jack wrote about in a letter soon after:
I had my heart torn out an(d) thrown at me a few days ago. Capt. OBrien was killed. Dave told me about it over the radio and I wouldnt believe it. I took command of the company and am really having my hands full. I thought I was busy when I was Exec. Of the company, but I have twice as much to do now. November 25, 1944
Several months and a lot of action later, as reports reach home and loved ones read with excitement how close their sons are to victory, a hint of trepidation appears in a late-March dispatch from Jack. No one wants to get killed so close to the end of the war, and yet they continue to get the tough duties:
No, mother we werent the first ones across the Rhine, but it didnt take us long to get us over here. We havent got many divisions in the American Army I dont guess. We are getting a little tired of hearing Send the First, they are tried troops with experience. March 24, 1945
Jacks last letter is as reflective as any sent from the battlefield. He is fearful that not enough precautions are being taken prior to the assault on German towns. But he fears not just for his own life, but future generations of Americans unless there is a political and cultural shift back home, and a permanent commitment to a well-built, professional and lethal military. He writes:
We are going to town again. There is only one thing wrong. There are too many German towns that we havent had time to fire our artillery into. I think we should fire about a thousand rounds into every town Someday I will tell you why I think my children and possibly yours will have to fight over the same ground I did and it will be a different and harder war. We have got to have military training in America for years and years to come. We have got to be so powerful that we can strike and strike hard in a very short time. We have got to build our character, maybe I should say get hard and tough. Enough. Enough. After that outburst I had better tell my sweetheart that I still love her. April 3, 1945
I wish I could say this was Jacks last letter before he caught the big boat home. But instead he died at the hands of a German sniper just weeks before the Germans surrendered. Jack Golden would never make it home and see his daddy. He would never see his sweet cousin my mother-in-law whom he affectionately called Sister. His remains are buried in an American cemetery in Germany. And his family would experience the great grief of another letter, this time from the commanding officer of the 16th Infantry:
30 April, 1945
Mrs. Reta M. Golden
Dear Mrs. Golden:
Please accept the sincere condolences of the officers and men of the 16th Infantry, on the death of your son, Captain Jack L. Golden, 0465929, who was killed in action on 15 April 1945 in Germany
Jack, at all times, was a good soldier and was well liked by both officers and men. He continually displayed the habits and bearing of an officer and gentleman, and he had the real respect and friendship of all who knew him. He died as he lived, courageously; in the performance of a difficult mission.
FREDERICK W. GIBB
Col, 16th Infantry
When I read Jacks letters, as I am prone to do from time to time, I wonder if we have truly honored the depth of his sacrifice, and the sacrifice of so many who never made it home from places we recognize first and foremost because of the horrors of war: Normandy, Guadalcanal, Pearl Harbor, Anzio, North Africa, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Baghdad, Kabul, and a thousand places in between.
Its not just those who made the ultimate sacrifice that we must honor as Americans. It is also the heroes who made it home. This day Veterans Days we honor our living heroes. We do so this year on 11/11/11. Our veterans have served and protected the greatest nation on the face of the earth. They are the greatest American ambassadors of freedom. They gave their all so we would not have to. They freed millions from tyranny and oppression, arriving not as conquerors but liberators. The freedom of a great many is a tribute to the courage of so few.
Today another generation of Americans is at war. One by one the survivors return home, their lives forever changed. Many are so young their best days should be ahead of them. But only if we honor their sacrifice with deeds and not just words only if we ensure they have transitional training to fill good jobs, access to quality health care because of the injuries and trauma they have sustained, and support to finish their education, afford a home and get on with their lives.
The valor of our veterans can never be captured fully in ceremonies or tributes and certainly not in a single letter. But it can be recognized, celebrated and remembered nonetheless by all of us who breathe the air of freedom they so heroically defended. To all veterans, we offer the gratitude of a great nation, and our best wishes for a long and happy life lived forevermore in peace.
I salute all my fellow veterans on this day.
Thank you casinva.
Thank you Rick Perry for putting it out for us to read.
This caught my eye (and all that followed and then tears knowing of his ultimate sacrifice but leaving so much wisdom for us in his letters).
.....:What is this stuff I read in the paper about the people at home getting ready for V-Day? If they were here with us they could understand just how long it will be before V-day I will say that if production slows down and shipment slows down much more we will be having another D-Day and not a V-Day. October 5, 1944”.....
And the Democrats on the “super” committee are walking away from bi-partisan legislation, looking forward to the deadline where our military budget will be cut — Obama’s politics before his country and fellow Americans and those who fought for our freedoms.
Thank you for posting this, casinva.
I am so glad Perry included the personal letters. It really brings it home as to how much our veterans sacrifice to preserve our freedom.
One of my uncles died in WWII. I have all of his possessions, including his memoirs and letters. And even though he died before I was born, his personal effects make me feel so close to him.
Today I listened to the theme song of “Band of Brothers” on YouTube, but I had never heard the words of the theme song, “Requiem for a Soldier.” Some of the words really touched my heart:
“You never lived to see
What you gave to me
One shining dream of hope and love
Life and liberty”
In his letters and memoirs my uncle would speak of what he wanted to do after the war (be a pilot), how he wanted to see the red roses of Texas, how he wanted a good Texas T-bone steak and how he invited some of his fellow airmen to Texas to share some steaks with them after the war, how he wanted a new suit when he got home.
But he died in the European theater during WWII in October of 1944. He was a left-waist gunner on a B-17 flying a mission over Germany. It breaks my heart to know his dreams were never to be realized.
My uncle, and so many others, have sacrificed all for the freedoms we are blessed with today - the freedom to live, love and dream.
RIP, Uncle James. And thank you for sacrificing your dreams so that I could live mine.
And God bless you, Governor Perry, and thank you for your service.
And God bless and keep all our brave veterans, past and present who serve to protect and defend our freedoms.
People need to read the link. He posted the letters for people to read. Thanks for posting this.
That’s really neat. Thanks for the post and the ping!
They have that camp-follower mentality and nastiness is all they know.
HAPPY VETERANS DAY TO ALL FR VETS!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service.
You’re welcome SS. I’ve posted it many times but it’s appropriate for this thread. Perry is a Veteran, as are you, and on any thread honoring Veterans, it would be unseemly to post anything but honorable words. IMHO
Thanks to all Veterans for their service.
Knock it off. This is a thread celebrating our vets - keep your politics and snide remarks off - or suffer consequences.
Mine’s from 1996-now.
Plan on doing at least 20 years, possibly 24.
Then I’ll buy a sailboat and live on it... and when the world gets to me a little too much, I’ll hoist anchor, sail away, and tell the world to go ‘eff’ itself.
[Patton read the prayer copy, returned it to me with a very casual directive, “Have 250,000 copies printed and see to it that every man in the Third Army gets one.”
Thanks SS, what a very nice story and prayer.
A good evening to all the active duty service men and women and veterans of our country. We remembered you today as we do so many days, but we hope we honored you even more than usual today on this day our country has set aside just for you. My own husband served in The U.S. Army for 25 years, and I know how much it meant for someone to say “Thank you for your service.”. So to all of you out there, “Thank you for your service. We are lifting you up and praying for you.”
Smoothsailing, You are a very special vet to me for many, many reasons, and I am thankful I have had the opportunity to have had this chance to get to know you, if only through Free Republic. You are a loyal friend, and I am sure you were, and will always be, a loyal and honorable member of our American armed forces.
And to my dad who served in WWII. The Army gave my dad the life he may not have had otherwise, and my father was consequently a part of American life. My dad received a purple heart on DDay. Never mind he lost part of his leg while trying to get to a truck to hide under it! :-) And that was shortly after he had been sea sick no less. I can smile and jest him. He’s in Heaven and I’m sure he’s smiling too. But to me, my dad was a hero, on the battleground and here in my heart.
May God’s blessings be upon all our military men and women today and always!
God bless our Veterans!
Love it Potlatch, thank you so much.
May God bless all our brave men and women who have served, to keep us free and safe.
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