By Carol McIntire
Rev. Dr. Robert M. Doak presented a stirring and thought-provoking Memorial Day address to a large crowd at Westview Cemetery in Carrollton May 29.
Doak, a former special agent, U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence –Naval Criminal Investigative Service from 1982-84, spoke about morale, it’s strength and importance in today’s world.
He told the audience they were standing on sacred ground.
“We cherish in grateful memory the honor of those buried beneath each grave, upon which now fly, unfurled, the enduring symbol of a grateful nation: our American flag,” he said.
He noted the voice of the fallen comrades does not point to their valor, but the quickening of our resolve in carrying forward the labors of liberty begun under their watch.
“The flame of liberty is a torch passed from one generation to the next,” he said, adding that history has shown that fierce winds of change cannot snuff out the flame of American freedom.
Doak said it is our right to ask what quality and inner character ennobled our forebears to endure wind and wave, parching sun and peril while holding high the torch and tending its flame?
“I believe the core of such inner character is hammered out upon the anvil of morale,” he said. “Morale does not admit to easy description because it does not spring from quantity of supplies, but rather from quality of human desire.”
Morale, he said, arises from the salty sweat of hard-knock labor along the front lines of life.
“We are not likely to find morale flourishing beneath the shade of a front porch swing hung from the rafters of ease or entitlement,” he said. “Morale casts its net broadly in search of those willing to commit fully to what is good, honest and decent. Morale does not admit to half-measures; for if in our hearts we are only half-in, we are not really in at all.”
“Morale is certainly a key military attribute, but in our nation one is a citizen as well as a soldier. When soldiering has been fulfilled, we return once again to civilian duties where, as much as ever, morale still matters.”
He said morale, at its finest, begins with solid leadership from top to bottom, calling it perhaps the nation’s greatest force-multiplier of a nation’s armed forces.
He told the group morale matters this Memorial Day because we cannot permit ourselves to become a weak link in the chain for liberty.
“Far too many brave and decent women and men are entombed beneath this sacred earth, having given their all, to hand over to us the blazing torch of freedom,” he said. “Memorial Day, if it moves us no other way, is a sobering reminder that an unbroken line of solder-citizens have ‘paid it ahead’ and we are called to do nothing less for one another.”
Doak called the morale of veterans in the VFW and American Legion who serve in the Honor Guard at military funerals unwavering.
“These are the men and women whose final farewell salute, volley of rifles, tend folding and presenting of the flag of a grateful nation, whose playing of taps helps mend broken hearts and give the full measure of meaning to well-lived. …these men and women who still have our veterans’ backs. Morale still matters and always will.”
In closing, he asked the question, “Will we rise to the high calling of doing all we are able to do to carry that same torch forward on our watch? Are we able to muster the sort of morale that matters, that inner core of character, which no wind of change can snuff out nor sea billow drench? Together with you, I pray that by the Lord’s hand, we will be found both willing and able.”
World War II veterans John McLoney and Carl Miller placed a wreath at the Veterans Memorial during the ceremony. Tammy Newbold and Debbie Paulette placed a wreath at the front of the flagpole.
Kody Bennett sang the National Anthem and Amanda Bentley played taps following a 21-gun salute by the firing squad and musical selections by the Carrollton High School band. Tom Barnett, American Legion Post 428 chaplain, provided the invocation and benediction. Jim Newbold, VFW Post 3301 commander, served an master of ceremonies for the event.