Swapping Stories Of War

May 31, 2009

For service members, the legacy of those who served before them is one that is rich in history, pride, tradition and similarity of experiences. To be able to get the opportunity to sit down and visit with veterans many of whom served in previous conflicts and hear their stories is something to be treasured. They are a wealth of information and a great resource. Members of the 82nd Airborne Division were able to do that, when they visited the Liberty Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Sanford, N.C. on Memorial Day, and spent time with veterans who live there. The administrator of the nursing home, Linda Andrews said the residents were excited about the visit.


“Even though it’s been years since they’ve served, these Soldiers still recognize the importance of their sacrifice,” Andrews said.1

The visit actually began the Friday before, with a ceremony that included a formal presentation of colors, recognition of the 13 veterans who attended, the playing of patriotic songs and a lunch. The best part of the event, however, was the chance for the young Soldiers to visit with the veterans and hear their stories.

“For the veterans, it’s a way for us to honor them and thank them for their service,” said Capt. Light Shin, an Army chaplain. “For the new guys, it’s a great way to learn from them, from their sacrifices, so that they can become stronger, better equipped Soldiers in their duties.”2

Veteran residents of the nursing home served in several conflicts, among them World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. Their vast knowledge and experiences are something that our young Troops can learn a lot from. Major Greg Stephens, whose wife Cassie serves as the director of nursing at Liberty Commons said it’s important for active duty Soldiers to remember the sacrifices of past Soldiers and take the time out of their days to remember and recognize these heroes.

“It’s a sincere honor to be able to salute the veterans in front of me who truly were and still are a part of the ‘Greatest Generation,’” Major Stephens said. “You are the same men and women who came out of the Great Depression, who won great victories and made lasting sacrifices during war and helped build or define the world that we live in today.”3

One of those veterans. Lewis Haywood, only spent 3 years in the military, but learned a lifetime of lessons in those 3 years, such as the similarities of people, regardless of the country they’re from. He joined the Army in the 60s as a teenager, during the time that fear of war with the Soviet Union was prevalant. Haywood was stationed in Germany when the Berlin Wall was first erected.

“I met a lot of nice people and learned how to get along well with people from other countries,” Haywood said. “For the most part, people in other countries are friendly but you’ll always find some unfriendly people anywhere you go.”4

Another Veteran who resides at the nursing home, Lillian Lang, was the spouse of an Air Force pilot during World War II. Wanting to contribute herself, Lang enlisted in the Army and served in an intelligence office in California. She shared how much she enjoyed her time in the military.

Another resident, Thomas Womble served as a Staff Sergeant in Korea for 13 months. During his time in service, he was injured when a mortar exploded and blew off one of his toes and caused permanent scarring to the left side of his face. He was discharged due to the injuries he received. Following his discharge from the military, Womble served for 30 years in the US Postal Service.

Each of the veterans who reside at the nursing home, had a story to tell. Stories that in many ways were familiar yet different to the young Soldiers who were there to visit with them. Each of the veterans are living history and are a valuable resource for our Troops.

I’m impressed that the Troops led by Major Stephens were willing to spend the time with these veterans. I would hope that in many other locations across the country, other Soldiers are doing the same thing. These men and women deserve our thanks and our gratitude. What they don’t deserve, like happens so often when a person is placed in a nursing home, is to be ignored or forgotten. They are the history of this country.

  1. http://www.military.com/news/article/gis-young-and-old-share-stories-of-war.html []
  2. http://www.military.com/news/article/gis-young-and-old-share-stories-of-war.html []
  3. http://www.military.com/news/article/gis-young-and-old-share-stories-of-war.html []
  4. http://www.military.com/news/article/gis-young-and-old-share-stories-of-war.html []


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