During an early Memorial Day address Saturday, retired Marine Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston recited some painful numbers for the crowd beginning with the 6,586 Georgians who died in World War II.
After going through wars and conflicts, ending with the 77 who have died in Afghanistan, Livingston said, “If you do the math on those numbers, Georgia has paid the price for freedom.”
Among them were the names on a monument behind him at Veterans Memorial Park honoring Glynn County residents who gave their lives.
After World War II, Livingston said, America became and remains the strongest and most stable country in the world, and that was possible only because of those who served in combat “and wore the cloth of our nation.”
Livingston’s service in combat during the Vietnam War earned him the Medal of Honor and Silver Star in separate engagements. In the first, as commander of Marine Co. E, Livingston led an assault on heavily fortified Dai Do to relieve another company cut off from the main force. Later, he maneuvered his remaining forces to reinforce a third company and repulse a furious enemy counterattack. Wounded several times and unable to walk, he allowed himself to be evacuated only after all his wounded were evacuated first and after the other Marines were safe.
He noted that America has freed more people from slavery and tyranny than all others before it in the history of the world, a part of history that is overlooked.
“Most of the public is uninformed,’’ he said, adding “the warrior merely carries the sword… The warrior dies for the mistakes of others.”
He urged every school to return to the teaching of history and said that students should be taught about the sacrifices that Americans have made.
Every school in Georgia should take a day off and walk the students through military cemeteries, he said.
“Have these kids look at the ages and dates,’’ Livingston said.
They will see the names of people 18 and 19 years old, just out of high school when they died for their country.
“They will see the Americans beneath their feet are not much older than they are,’’ he said.
More than 1,400,000 Americans have died in the direct support of freedom, Livingston said.
Saturday’s Memorial Day observance was the first official function at Veterans Memorial Park since its dedication Nov. 4. It also served earlier as the venue for a small ceremony in which Quilts of Valor of Camden County honored a group of Army veterans who served in Vietnam.
Former Glynn County Commission Chairman Mike Browning presided at the dedication and was recognized Saturday for his work getting the park built.
The Veterans Council of the Golden Isles recognized Browning for his “outstanding leadership and personal commitment” in securing the park. Browning, who served with the Army’s 11th Infantry Brigade in Vietnam, received a plaque from another Vietnam veteran, retired Marine Col. Franklin “Nick” Hart.
Browning deflected the praise as best he could saying he humbly accepted the honor on behalf of the many others who worked to make Veterans Memorial Park a reality.
Cadets from the Glynn Academy Marine Corps Junior ROTC presented the colors. In one of the more touching moments, the crowd, led by Chris Hickey, clasped hands as they sang “God Bless America.”