Honoring those who have fallen
by The Press and Standard | May 30, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: May 29, 2019 at 10:35 am
The Memorial Day ceremonies conducted in front of the Colleton County Veterans War Memorial focused on the county’s latest soldier to die in the line of duty.
In addition to the regular rituals of a Memorial Day observance, the members of the Colleton County Veterans Council designed a program that would unveil a new granite plaque installed on the brick wall that had previously memorialized those county residents who had lost their lives in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
The new granite marker was installed to remember the fallen in the Global War on Terrorism — created to memorialize those Colleton County residents who have given their lives in the conflicts since Sept. 11, 2001.
The plaque contains just one name, SFC Alvin A. Boatwright, the Lodge native who had died in action in Afghanistan on June 18, 2011.
Those conducting the dedication said it was their fervent wish that Boatwright name would continue to stand alone on the memorial.
Major General R. Van McCarty, South Carolina Adjutant General, began his speech remembering those who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the past conflicts, memorializing 33 county residents killed in World War I, the 57 who died in the conflicts of World War II, the 12 killed while serving in the Korean War and the 10 county residents who had died in the Vietnam War.
McCarty serves as South Carolina’s 29th Adjutant General for South Carolina and head of the South Carolina Military Department. He administers the affairs of the South Carolina Army and Air National Guard, the Emergency Management Division, the State Guard, and the Youth ChalleNGe Academy. He was adjutant general in February of 2019, after serving as assistant Adjutant General since 2013.
As McCarty’s speech was drawing to a close, he turned his focus to the veterans and those currently serving in the Global War on Terrorism.
Boatwright, McCarthy told the audience, was among the 16 South Carolina residents who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Global War on Terrorism.
In speaking to the parents of those fallen in battle, McCarty said, there are two recurring comments. “I hear that they loved what they did, they put on the uniform with pride and respect for that uniform.”
He has heard the mothers of the fallen say, “my son or daughter would do it all over again even if they knew how the script was going to end because they believed in their heart that they were doing the right thing.” They died following their ideals: “Never, ever compromise getting the mission done or letting down their fellow soldiers, marines, sailors or airmen.”
The second thing he hears again and again from the parents of those fallen is “do not forget — someone must tell the story,” he added.
Turning toward the section of the audience on his left, McCarty said, he wanted to thank the Boatwright family “allowing us today to continue telling that story.”
The family and friends of Boatwright came to the ceremony wearing white shirts carrying his photo and name. They came to Walterboro from all over the country, McCarty said, to honor Boatwright’s memory.
“I am honored to be here today, to be a part of this memorial,” McCarty said. He added that he wanted to attend to recognize the young men and young women like SFC Boatwright.
“We hear often that our World War II generation was called America’s Greatest Generation. I can’t really argue with that, they did phenomenal things,” McCarty said.
He also hears “quite a bit about the young men and young women of this generation being a little bit different,” McCarty said. “Maybe not as tough, as gritty or whatever you want to say of those of previous generations.”
McCarty said his experience after serving with soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as going to places where they train today for the next operation, dispels that notion.
“I find them to be amazing young soldiers, just as much dedicated to getting the job done, just as much dedicated willing to make the sacrifices that their forefathers have made,” McCarty offered.
“They are incredibly smart.” But, “they see the world differently than the previous generations. Sometimes I think that that maybe part of our struggle in understanding them,” McCarty suggested.
“They communicate a little bit differently,” he added. It is a difference that he sees both professional and personally. “Often it just amazes me, somewhat infuriates me, to see my children communicate across the kitchen table and carry on conversations and never say a word,” McCarthy said.
“But they are a red, white and blue generation, they will still raise their hand, take an oath to defend the Constitution of this great nation against its enemies, foreign and domestic, and do so at a time when the nation has been at war for its longest period in history,” McCarty said. “Those young men and women have either enlisted, reenlisted, continued to serve knowing that they are in harms way.” Earlier in the ceremony, those in the audience who have sons or daughters currently serving in the military were asked to raise their hands. Nearly a dozen hands went up.
“I am proud of this generation. I look forward to seeing them grow with their leadership ability and seeing them can help take this great nation under their watch,” McCarty said.
They continue the legacy of the veterans that came before them, he said. “They are here today because of one thing: those generations who have served before, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”