‘It was a far different time’

Goodman, veterans seek connection, concern from young people

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery – more than 400 images

ROCKINGHAM — Kodi Grubbs stood in the back, on the outer edge of the more than 100 people in attendance of the annual Memorial Day observation on Saturday at Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Rep. Ken Goodman, left, and Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris show respect to the flag of the United States of America as Dante' Davis, a member of the Richmond Senior High School Army JROTC program, sings the national anthem.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Rep. Ken Goodman, left, and Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris show respect to the flag of the United States of America as Dante’ Davis, a member of the Richmond Senior High School Army JROTC program, sings the national anthem.

He watched as his son, Kaleb Liles, participated in the event, his first as a member of the Richmond Senior High School Army JROTC unit. Grubbs has no other connection to the military.

Grubbs said he stood behind the others because he felt they belonged. Saturday’s hour-long ceremony, Grubbs said, “was about family. That’s why I stood back.”

Rep. Ken Goodman, the featured speaker on Saturday, said Grubbs and his son are exactly the type of person veterans need to attract to understand their stories, their sacrifices and their post-combat needs. Only 1 percent of today’s population has served in the military, Goodman said, and fewer and fewer people have a sense of respect for the American flag and the sacrifices made by regular people who return of combat operations as something else.

“We still have young people fighting and dying,” Goodman said, yet with, at best, an indirect connection with the life of the average American. “People today don’t seem to know what’s going on, don’t seem as concerned.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Johnny Patrick, of AMVETS Post 316, presents the flag to the audience after he took the lead in a four-person team showing the proper folding of the flag.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Johnny Patrick, of AMVETS Post 316, presents the flag to the audience after he took the lead in a four-person team showing the proper folding of the flag.

Goodman recalled his first job as a paper boy for the Richmond County Journal. At 8 years old, he sold a third of his 60 papers three days a week to courthouse workers. As he walked inside, each time Goodman said he noticed and often stopped to look at the two plaques dedicated to fallen American service members, on one side a recognition of those who fought in the Civil War and on another those who fought in World War I.

It was, Goodman said, roughly a decade after the end of World War II and the Korean War was still on the minds of many. Goodman, joined the Army Reserve in 1969, transferred to the National Guard a year later and served his active duty time at Fort Bragg and Fort Eustis, Va. until being discharged in 1975. While in the courthouse, read down the list of names on a regular basis.

“It seemed everybody had some connection to the military,” Goodman said.

Whether they were in the service, or had a family member who did so, or worked to conserve what are now considered basics — such as butter and rubber for common items such as car tires — it seemed that “everyone was part of the war effort.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com MaKayla Bacon, a senior at Richmond Senior High School, performs "Taps" after members of AMVETS Post 316 conducted a 21-gun salute on the Memorial Day weekend ceremony Saturday at Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
MaKayla Bacon, a senior at Richmond Senior High School, performs “Taps” after members of AMVETS Post 316 conducted a 21-gun salute on the Memorial Day weekend ceremony Saturday at Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park.

Goodman said it’s a message veterans need to tell their civilian counterparts. War changes people, Goodman said.

“Any of you who have been in combat and came back healthy … you left something on the battlefield,” Goodman acknowledged.

Politics aside, Goodman said veteran really only need one thing when they return home.

“They want us to remember what they did, and why they did it,” Goodman.

There was hope for sharing veterans’ burdens with young people, to increase their awareness of and respect for the American flag. All Goodman had to do was look around his audience for that hope.

MaKayla Bacon, a senior at Richmond Senior High School, has she she hopes to still play for such ceremonies even after leaving Rockingham for college this fall. There’s even younger people like Liles, a student at the Ninth Grade Academy, and his fellow RSHS Army JRTOC cadets, and even younger still, as on Saturday a father held his young son and pointed to those paying respect to American military service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Rep. Ken Goodman, a veteran of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard, was the featured speaker during the annual Memorial Day weekend ceremony at Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Rep. Ken Goodman, a veteran of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard, was the featured speaker during the annual Memorial Day weekend ceremony at Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Charles Gainey walks the memorial wreath representing the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Charles Gainey walks the memorial wreath representing the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Jack Hudson, who served as a Private First Class with the 5th Regimental Combat Team in the Army during the Korean War, salutes during the singing of the national anthem.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Jack Hudson, who served as a Private First Class with the 5th Regimental Combat Team in the Army during the Korean War, salutes during the singing of the national anthem.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Filed in: Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, Military and Veterans, News, Rockingham

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