The Greatest Generation- from 2012

I was at the Trion track field yesterday for the Memorial Day celebration. I saw a lot fewer of the men from my Dad’s generation there than ever before. The men and women from “the greatest generation” are very quickly and for the most part quietly leaving us. Ten years ago, I still used to see them down at Trade Day, walking around and still buying tools and things to work with. That was their signature, their iconic symbol. Work. They came back home from World War II and Korea and worked. They worked in the Cotton Mills, in the Car factories. They worked as farmers and carpenters. They built this country back up from a depression much greater and more cutting than this current one. They were men of few words, and ever fewer gripes. They didn’t piss and moan about how hard they had things, about not having the luxuries of life. They ate beans and ‘taters, and did without. They did without a lot of times so that they could give us, the “baby boomers” more than what they had…giving us things that they themselves had always wanted as children but could not have; toys, clothes….a childhood. They mostly gave us love. Many of them gave us more love because of all the death and destruction they had seen in the Wars. So, I was happy to shake the hands of some of these men yesterday. More than that….I was honored. I have been honored to know so many of them who are now gone and have been so instrumental in shaping my life, that being what it is, not perfection but at least respectful in most instances. I wish I could name them all….I hesitate to even name a few for fear I would leave some out from my bad memory who really need to be included. My Daddy of course, Gaines Bowers. Men at the First Baptist Church when I was a child, Mr. Watson and Tip McCollum and Leo Lanier, J.W. Greenwood, Mr. Bailey Gilbreath, Billy Locklear, Paul Arden, Mr. Styles, Jake Woods, (still miss his birthday phone calls) Hugh Henderson, Joe Woods, Logan Parker, Mr. King, (still see him at Trade Day..bless him) Norman McClellan, Victor Pettett, King Anthony, and so many more. The men at Riegel Textile many of who were also members of the Church but some not, Henry Rider, and Dee Wilson, Thurman Day, Julius Sprayberry, Namon Dennis, Joe Collette, Mr. Brown (Roy and Marty’s Daddy) Porter Durham, Mr. Shamblin, and again, so many more. The people of the town…Mr. Sprayberry at the Post Office, and Jules Stephen, who always cut my hair, Joe the Postman always walking his beat, Mr. Chief Starkey, Hoyt Williams, Alfred Mount, Mr. Hurley’s, (Sr. and Jr.) Mr. Horton the pharmacist, Deck Brewster, Sloppy Floyd who was our neighbor at one time, Tommy Brown, Mr. Clyde Bethune, Mr. Grubbs, and so many more. All of our teachers, Mr. Sam McCain, Mr. Miller, Mr. Strickland. So many of them, and of course ALL of their wives who had as much, if not MORE influence on us. Just look at the name of the men, and think…you will know their names. Yes, they are leaving us, and for those who are already gone let’s take a moment to remember them this weekend. For those who are still here and getting around, shake their hands, hug them, tell them you love them while you have a chance….because they ARE passing away and will all soon be gone.

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