TOP PHOTO: Campbell County Veteran Joe Roy circa 2008.

By Joseph Roy

LAFOLLETTE, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – The ink was not even dry on Joe Roy’s Campbell County High School diploma ,and he was barely 18-years old when he headed off to Fort Benning in early June 2008.  There where the U.S. Army base straddles the Georgia-Alabama line was the start of Roy’s six-year run of serving his country. WLAF is honored that the E-5 Sgt. Joe Roy has taken the time to share this story on this Veterans Day weekend.

Greetings East Tennessee,

Many veterans will be spending the day with family and friends.  Others will no doubt find solace in a whiskey bottle.  Some will spend the day reflecting on memories of veterans gone to the Fiddler’s Green to be seen no more.  An estimated 44 veterans will commit suicide today.  For me, I will spend today praying and asking for wisdom. 

This has led me to write the following:  

My first thought on this day falls upon the brave men of WWI.  10,000 Americans arrived in France daily in 1918 to find what one historian called “The Human Lawnmower.”  Trench warfare is really something unimageable in living memory.  Let’s look at a modern conflict for perspective.  Current estimates of casualties on both sides of the Russian/Ukraine conflict range from 38,000 to 100,000 killed and wounded.  This conflict started on February 24th of this year. In contrast, the Battle of Verdun lasted from the 21st of February to December 18th, 1916, with over 1 million causalities.  This is from a single battle in a conflict that spanned the globe and lasted 4 years.  We would be wise to remember the human cost of European wars.

My next thoughts fall upon what can be done to prevent future conflict.  Ultimately, this is a somewhat fruitless exercise, yet I am nevertheless drawn to reflect upon it. I suppose since the dawn of sentience, old soldiers try to find peace.  I fear our nation is riding a tiger and if we are not careful, we will end up inside its belly.  What more can be said?

My last reflection is on some words of wisdom spoken by David Brinkley, a newscaster from 1943 to 1997 for both NBC and ABC. During a report on the end of the conflict in Vietnam, Brinkley spoke these words among the gravestones of Arlington National Cemetery. “When some future politician for some reason feels the need to drag this country into war, he might come out here to Arlington and stand right over there somewhere to make his announcement and tell what he has in mind.  If he can attract public support speaking from a place like this, then his reasons for starting a new war would have to be good ones.”

Let’s seek Wisdom again.

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.” Proverbs 3, 13 – 19. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 11/12/2022-6AM)