Remember ing Fallen Heroes
Visibly emotional throughout the duration of his keynote Memorial Day address, Lt. Col. George Cutchall saluted our nation’s fallen heroes Monday during the annual tribute services held at Union Cemetery and outside the Fulton County Courthouse.
Certainly not a foreigner to Union Cemetery, Cutchall told the crowd his middle name originated from a World War I veteran who is interred at the cemetery south of McConnellsburg along Great Cove Road. Having spoken locally on several occasions, Cutchall noted his first opportunity to speak in county was as a major returning from the first Gulf War in 1992.
“My speech today is not aimed at the audience I see in front of me. Instead, hopefully, it will be read by those not here so that they might better understand Memorial Day,” said Cutchall, who noted his speech made reference to two incidents that occurred all too recently
In one instance, Cutchall said he accompanied his uncle and uncle’s brother from Iowa to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Both in their 80s, the duo are veterans of the South Pacific Island campaigns in the capacity of Navy landing craft utility crewman and Marine rifleman.
“We went to the Marine Corps Memorial. My uncle by this time was worn out, but his brother wanted to see this tribute to the marines. We disembarked the bus and walked to the memorial. Suddenly, he grabbed my shoul- der and started to cry. He told me he didn’t hit the beach with the first wave at Iwo Jima, but that he had participated in Tinanin, Saipan, Okinawa and Tarawa. He had accumulated enough combat points to go home but had refused so he could stay with his fellow marines,” said Cutchall. “Normal casualty rates in the first waves exceeded 60 percent killed in action. He we went in on the fourth wave at Iwo Jima.”
“After 65 plus years he still some how felt guilty by not going in first. This showed me the finest of the ‘Greatest Generation’ and the sacrifices they made to keep us free and truly epitomizes our remembrances today,” he added.
Cutchall went on to elaborate about the kind of individuals who serve our nation today, the quality of the steel in their backs and their dedication. He concluded that marines believe God gave America the greatest gift he could bestow on man while he lives on this earth – freedom.
“We also believe he gave us another gift nearly as precious – our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen and marines to safeguard that gift and guarantee no force on this earth can ever steal it away. ... Rest assured our America, this experiment in democracy started over two centuries ago, will forever remain the ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ so long as we never run out of tough, young Americans who are willing to look beyond their own self-interest and comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on the earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do us harm,” Cutchall stated.
“This is why we celebrate Memorial Day and why we must forever remember those who gave their last bit of life to ensure our freedoms,” he said.
Following Cutchall’s address, the presentation of memorial wreaths at both locations was overseen by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion as well as their auxiliary groups. The memorial prayer at the cemetery and outside the courthouse was by chaplain Robert Snyder. The Fulton Honor Guard was also on hand to salute departed comrades, and musical selections by the Mc- Connellsburg High School Spartan Band and director Larry Stepler entertained the crowd.