“Mothers understand the sacrifices of war better than anyone else. Mothers suffer the sacrifices of war more than anyone else.” — Major General James Livingston, Medal of Honor Recipient
Saturday night, I had the privilege to join hundreds of fellow Upstate friends as we honored the military, veterans, Wounded Warriors and Gold Star mothers (mothers who have lost a child in war) through The Nashville Connection’s “Heroes Salute: Taking It to the Next Level” benefit concert and gala.
The program began last Wednesday at the TD Convention Center in Greenville with an official escort of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute (which brought The Traveling Vietnam Wall) and ended Sunday at noon, when the Traveling Wall was dismantled. During the weekend, thousands of people walked along the sidewalk, placing flags in front of the Wall.
Some took a piece of paper and with a pencil etched the name of the loved one they were honoring. Others placed their hand on the Wall and just reflected. Vietnam veterans stood guard 24/7 at the Traveling Wall.
I have stood at the permanent Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C., stirred to my core, as people “remember and reflect” on the life of their hero.
It never grows old.
As I stood in front of this Traveling Wall, I was stirred once again, thankful that our community had the opportunity to be part of history, part of an era, a chapter that we must never forget.
Grateful that the Upstate could share our appreciation of those men and women who fought and died in the Vietnam War. Glad to honor the Vietnam Veterans of America.
Congressman Jeff Duncan kicked off the gala with a tribute to veterans as he listed off many battles from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan where American soldiers had fought and died.
“These soldiers give the inheritance of a great name and leave the legacy of a great example," he said.
General Livingston honored the Gold Star Mothers in attendance. He introduced the program Hugs for Healing, which takes Gold Star Mothers on an Honor Flight to Iraq to give them the opportunity for some closure as the women visit women in Iraq who have also lost children to the war and see advancements that have been made in the country as a result of their sacrifice.
It is a program that focuses on women’s initiatives, nation-building and reconciliation. One American mother had placed a blue angel on Iraqi soil. She said that finally she truly felt “free." It was the final step she needed to be able come to peace with the death of her son.
Another mother talked about the sweet memento the First Lady of Iraq had given her in tribute of her son’s death in the liberation of the Iraqi people. To read more about this program, click here.
The concert benefitted several groups: FUTURE (Families United Toward Universal Respect — which hosts the Hugs for Healing and other programs), Not Alone (for veterans returning from war to ensure they receive the care they need and get help re-acclimating), Honor Flight of the Upstate (a program that takes World War II soldiers and their families to see the WWII Memorial in Washington DC), the Vietnam Veterans of America, Wounded Warriors and the Gold Star Mothers.
Country music star Darryl Worley was the featured artist and his compelling voice and stirring lyrics honored all who have worn the uniform. His “Unsung Heroes” thanked those families who wait behind, with bated breath just praying that their loved one will return, quietly working hard to pay the bills and rear the kids.
The most precious song, “Have We Forgotten?” paid tribute to the first responders and all who had died on 9/11, and the military that had fought since that their country would not forget and would not allow the world to forget.
We still need that song today!
The Upstate of South Carolina had a unique opportunity this weekend to not only start their 4th of July holiday off right but to honor those who defend our freedom so that we can celebrate our nation’s independence.
Thank you, veterans!
Thank you, families of veterans!
I hope that never again will any of you return to anything but absolute gratitude and love from your fellow countrymen. We owe a debt of gratitude to you that we can never repay.
LaDonna Ryggs, Spartanburg County Republican Party Chairman, is the Managing Editor of Palladian View — a digital magazine for the conservative Republican woman.