Buice column: Proud to serve: Memorial Day a time to honor those who protect our country

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 23, 2019

With the approach of Memorial Day each year, it’s always a time to pause and reflect on those who died in all of America’s wars as well all those veterans who served along with current members of the U.S. military.

We should all be truly thankful on this day — and actually every day — for those who have protected the freedoms we all enjoy and remember the hundreds of thousands who lost their lives over the years bravely serving our country.

I always think of my father who was aboard one of the Navy destroyer ships — the USS Hopping (DE-155) — during World War II and remembering some of the stories he shared about some scary times.

One that always stood out to me was him recalling when a German torpedo hit the USS Donnell, one of the ships in the fleet. That ship lost 29 men in the explosion. He could have been one of them. I remember him talking about a convoy the Hopping was protecting being attacked, and an oiler was destroyed.

But in his understated style, he would say: “You just keep on going.” He was serving his country and proud to do so.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, he went to Newport News, Virginia, and signed on as an electrician’s helper. After boot camp, the Navy sent him to electrician’s school at the University of Minnesota, and he was eventually assigned to one of 305-foot destroyer escort ships in 1942 as an electrician’s mate.

The motto of the ships was: “Trim but deadly,” but there was an old joke that DE stood for “destroyer expendable.” My dad would say that his ship and the others like it did the “dirty details.”

But they were mighty important to the overall cause, which was the ultimate victory.

Like many veterans, my father wasn’t one to boast about being involved in the successful war effort. In fact, in my earlier years, I rarely heard him talk about it.

However, in his later years, he got involved in the Destroyer Escort Sailors Association and spent a great deal of time reconnecting with old buddies. Some were on his ship; others weren’t; but they all shared a similar bond.

Whenever I hear “Anchors Aweigh,” I fondly think of my father. I can remember being in a church service with my family to honor the military one Sunday morning back in the 1990s. They asked for those who served in the various branches to stand when they played their fight song. The image will forever be etched in my mind of my dad proudly standing with tears streaming down his face when the Navy song was played.

My dad, who passed away in 2006, has always been my hero. Let us never forget all those who have served our country and, particularly on this Memorial Day, to honor the men and women who lost their lives during combat.

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Leftovers from Clemmons Community Day: One of the highlights for many at what was the 10th annual Clemmons Community Day is always some of the freebies made available by the local businesses.

As the weather on that first Saturday in May started to heat up, one of the favorite stops was Abbott’s Frozen Custard, which was handing out free samples.

Of course, I had to stop by and partake, and was told that the new business, which will be located in the booming Village Point area behind Dairi-O and projected to open in early summer, will be the company’s first franchise in North Carolina. Abbott’s headquarters is Rochester, N.Y., and there are some other locations up and down the East Coast.

Certainly, it was a sweet way to make its introduction to the Clemmons community even before the store actually opened.

Another freebie I received came from one of the local hair salons who handed me a coupon for a free haircut.

I smiled while I took off my hat, revealing my bald head.

“Give it to a friend,” she said, not missing a beat.