First things first.
Donald Singleton told me the other day he wants to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day, so here you go from me and Donald. Happy Memorial Day.
Donald, in case you don’t know, is a local veteran wounded in 1967 in Vietnam while serving as a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division.
Donald is a great man, in my estimation, and I’m lucky to know him.
I might not have were it not for a fellow named Dale Wayrynen. He saved Donald’s life, enabling him to come home, albeit with a Purple Heart and nightmares that exist to this day, and raise a family and become one of Richmond Hill’s favorite sons and the purveyor of some of the best barbecue sauce I’ve ever had.
Wayrynen saved Donald’s life by throwing himself on a grenade. Sadly, Wayrynen did not survive his heroism. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Let that sink in. It’s men and women like Wayrynen, you see, some no more than kids, we honor this weekend. Men like Matthew Freeman, and Harry Lee Boles and Lowry Cuthbert. And Joel Dameron, who in April was honored in a Tweet by the Veterans Administration. And Jason Dahlke. And John Duggar, Johnny Kangeter and John Bacon.
All have local ties, all served in one of the branches of the military, all were killed in action fighting in one of this nation’s wars going back to WWI and continuing on through Iraq and Afghanistan.
So in between the beach and pool parties and shopping trips and cookouts, take time to think about sacrifice. Say a prayer for their families and remember it’s a free country in large part due to what they gave up.
Onward: Mike Brown is a correspondent for us and Tuesday he covered a story running on the front page of this paper. It’s about a soldier on deployment who lost both legs and an arm who is getting a custom built home courtesy the Gary Sinese Foundation.
The last paragraph in the story remains as Mike, who served as a Marine officer, wrote it.
I left it that way because in an email Mike added the following as an explainer: “I got a little pissy with one of the TV guys --they’re all pretty nice -- but he made a comment about it must be nice to be getting a free house. I told him that damned mortgage was paid in full on Aug. 16, 2019. And I said it kind of sharply. He was a young buck who had no clue. He said this while we’re standing there looking directly at a guy missing two legs and an arm ....”
Onward: I was in the Piggly Wiggly down in Eulonia the other day helping my mom with her weekly shopping when I overheard a couple of skinny women talking loudly amongst themselves as they pushed a buggy toward the Brussel sprouts.
I don’t know what they said, but they both sounded like mild versions of Fran Drescher, the actress who played in the sitcom The Nanny. Her accent is about as New York as it gets, and these women had her beat.
Northerner’s moving to the South is nothing new, of course, and I count a few transplants from the Rust Belt among my few friends. But still, there used to be places they hadn’t discovered yet, and Eulonia and greater McIntosh County were among those places.
Not anymore. Developers have got hold of it, and are seeing dollar signs. That means it’s only a matter of time before it, like so many places on the Georgia coast, becomes overdeveloped. Poolerized. Richmond Hilled. Rinconized. Port Wentworthed.
Still, it’s novel enough there at present that the local weekly newspaper, Kathleen Russell’s wonderful Darien News, runs a regular feature on people who move to town, and invariably they’re from up north and charmed by the slower pace of life, etc. I figure they’ll have to wait about another decade and then see how much slower that pace is.
Traffic is going to be a mess, taxes will go up, the grocery store will run out of water and toilet paper every time it rains hard and the wind blows. But maybe they’ll get a Chic-fil-A and some roundabouts.
One final note: Being ex-Army I tend to poke fun at Air Force and Navy folks because, of that old interservice rivalry thing. Back in the day our barracks weren’t good enough for airmen, who had to have so much living space and creature comforts while us poor field artillery privates and specialists and sergeants were living crammed into closets.
But, my wife doesn’t like it. We were watching a documentary recently on RAF bomber crews and afterward she said she couldn’t understand why I talked bad about the Air Force.
I couldn’t explain it to her, so my 2023 Memorial Day resolution is to quit saying bad things about the Navy.