By Donna Thornton/News Editor
The sacrifice of our na-tion’s veterans was honored May 27 in Gadsden with a solemn ceremony at the Col. Ola Lee Mize Patriots Park adjacent to Noccalula Falls.
The ceremony, organized by the Gadsden-Etowah Patriots Association, brought speaker retired CSM Leon Caffie to Gadsden.
“We come here today not to mourn but to celebrate,” Caffie said, the strength of our nation and the sacrifices of soldiers in conflict across the decades.
“The American flag stands as a beacon for freedom, as a beacon of what you can do.
“The freedom it represents was paid for by the soldiers who’ve served in foreign lands, “those who froze to death in Korea,” Caffie said and those members of the greatest generation who fought in World War II.
Caffie said in all corners of the world, people want to come to America. If everyone could see the savage way women are treated and young children are treated in some countries, he said, they would understand that the American way of life should be prized.
“No North Korean dictator, no president of Iran can change that way of life,” Caffie said.
“I stand on the shoulders of (past) soldiers as a beacon of what we can do,” Caffie said. He recognized the contributions of young people in the ceremony. East Gadsden Baptist Church Youth Choir sang the national anthem; The Gadsden City High School musicians performed “Taps,” and Jacob Hix sang “God Bless the USA.”
“These young Americans are the future of our nation,” Caffie said. “I’ve done my years. I’ve carried the hammer.”
Younger generations must now take up the cause. Caffie has witnessed the efforts of those younger generations in the field.
The first casualty during Caffie’s service in Iraq was an 18-year-old soldier – a young woman who lost both legs below the knee.
“Her first question was ‘will I still be able to serve?’” Caffie recalled.