Honoring the heroes among us
For years I have read about the people and events surrounding World War II. This past week was special for me as I watched America recognize and honor the heroes of our greatest generations as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. D-Day.
Friday, May 24, one of the heroes that I have read so much about stepped off the pages of a book and walked into the I-77 Welcome Center in Williamstown. That was when I met Sgt. Mahlon Sebring.
Sgt. Sebring is a 95-year-old survivor of the June 6, 1944, Normandy invasion. Sgt. Sebring was attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, 319th Glider Field Artillery, A Battery. He was a 19-year-old gliderman on the forefront of the invasion. Seventy-five years ago, Sgt. Sebring flew off into the dark, his transport was constructed of mere canvas and unarmed. Sgt. Sebring was uncertain of what would be waiting once his glider cleared the English Channel. What courage that must have taken. Thank you, Sgt. Sebring.
Not yet bent by age, Sebring stood tall, had a firm handshake and a gentle, calm face that lit up with a smile when I asked to shake his hand. I assured Sgt. Sebring that America has not forgotten what he and others of his generation did not only for us, but for the world. Sebring took special notice of a granite monument placed at the entrance to the Welcome Center:
Welcome to West Virginia
West Virginia All-Airborne Chapter
Dedicated to the paratroopers and glidermen who have, and to the men and women who continue to serve as America’s finest.
America’s Guard of Honor
Watching Sgt. Sebring’s reaction as he read the monument made me proud that we do remember — and we remember out loud — evidenced by monuments and statues displayed across our nation.
I am incredibly proud and thankful to be an American. America is an exceptional country and the American spirit is unmatched across the globe. For anyone who doubts America’s exceptionality, let me recommend two easy yet inspiring books: “The Berlin Airlift,” and “No Ordinary Time.” During the Berlin blockade, America sustained citizens of West Berlin with food, clothing and fuel from June 1948 to May 1949. It was a monumental achievement by any standard and it came less than three years after the end of World War II.
“No Ordinary Time” reveals how during the war the American workforce came together to sustain not only the U.S., but Great Britain and Russia as well. The American workforce in those war-torn years fed, clothed and armed not one but three nations. “No Ordinary Time” reveals how management and unions worked together, how women entered the workforce, how companies provided daycare for children while mothers worked, how companies provided lunches or sometimes even housing for their workers.
One should never underestimate or doubt what the steadfast American spirit can accomplish, has accomplished and if called upon will accomplish again.
God bless the United States of America and her people — I pray.