Veterans Allen Skinner and Willie Faison, both of Clinton, along with friend James Williams Jr. were in the Southeast Boulevard McDonald’s Tuesday enjoying a cup of coffee and conversation with friends. With Memorial Day fast approaching, they talked about the plight of veterans and their own time in the military.
For veterans Skinner and Faison, thoughts of Memorial Day turn quickly to memories of friends and comrades they lost while fighting wars in Vietnam and Korea. It’s a day, they said, of remembrance, some sadness and a whole lot of patriotism.
“Memorial Day means a lot to me,” attested Skinner, who served three years in the Army, fighting in Vietnam. “It’s a day to reflect, to honor the war dead, to remember the price they paid. War was tough, and it’s something you don’t get over. So many didn’t come back, and so many that did won’t ever be the same.”
Faison, a 22-year veteran serving in the Army Airborne in Korea and Vietnam, agrees. “I lost friends over there, and this time of year, especially, you think about them.”
For Williams, Memorial Day is a day to honor those, he believes, are the reason he lives the life he does. “I’m glad they have days like Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but in truth we should think about our veterans every day and show them respect every day. The price they paid was what gives me the right to be free. We all have a lot to be grateful for.”
Skinner said he doesn’t believe veterans get nearly the respect they deserve, particularly given how much they suffered.
“When I came back, I suffered terribly with PTSD. I had horrible nightmares. I didn’t want to talk about the war because it brought back such terrible memories. You just want to hide from it, somehow get away from it.”
It took years, he said, before the government was willing to give him and other veterans the help they needed. “There wasn’t any help when I got home. They just threw you right back into the world as if nothing had happened. That’s why you see so many homeless veterans out there. Their minds are messed up; they need help. They deserve help.”
Both Faison and Skinner said this Memorial Day they hope people will take time to remember. “There was so much sacrificed. People laid down their lives on those battlefields for our country. It’s important to remember and be thankful,” Faison pointed out.
Join Publisher Sherry Matthews Wednesday, May 31, at the Sampson Crossing McDonald’s to discuss the topics you find most interesting or most concerning. One lucky person will win a free sandwich courtesy of McDonald’s of Clinton