To The Daily Sun,

North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25,1950. A few days before the invasion, Meredith’s Joe Hart was on stage in Quincy, Massachusetts receiving his high school diploma. This stunning attack prompted Hart to join his local Naval Reserve and soon afterwards the U.S. Navy.

Everything was a whirlwind for Joe Hart from that day forward. Basic training in Bainbridge, Maryland was followed by enhanced "battle ready" preparedness on the Great Lakes of Michigan. A flight to San Diego, California was next. Shortly after landing there, Hart was assigned to the USS Nereus, a ship soon set out at sea escorting and repairing submarines throughout the Pacific Ocean. Hart remained on the Nereus until the war ended, July 27,1953.

Hart, along with 29 other New England War Veterans, was recently chosen to be on an "Honor Flight" to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 12. While there they will tour sacred war memorials and visit venerable Arlington Cemetery: a "hallowed ground" where quiet dignity reigns.

Going down "memory lane" Hart thinks often of his Naval Brotherhood that led to noteworthy productivity. Personnel assignments on the Nereus weren’t for the "light hearted." Yet, in the midst of the unknown one thing was certain: Hart’s shipmates were tightly united in protecting each other from the varmints of the world.

When you’re out in the darkness of a hostile sea and begin to dwell on whether you’ll ever see your family and friends again, an appreciation for the smaller things in life becomes a new way of thinking. Moaning and criticizing the little stuff comes to a screeching halt.

Too often the Korean conflict is referred to as the Forgotten War. A war which left 54,000 Americans dead.

When America beckons its best to step up to defend liberty, the very men and women walking into that plane with Joe Hart on Sunday are the type you’ll see stepping forward. They’re the unselfish and stoic kind. The kind of American men and women intent on keeping good people safe by destroying evil.

Not one person boarding Sunday’s Honor Flight is short on courage. All have a repertoire of memories some of which were life-saving. These are strong willed women and men who wear their uniform proudly.

Gratitude for wartime deeds, by our exceptionally brave men and women, can never do justice in just words and monuments. So here’s a humble salute for those putting personal hopes and dreams aside by committing to ‘live battlefield’ encounters.

America’s War Veterans are precious. They’re remarkable people whose bond and likeness rest in preserving world-wide freedom. A freedom where everyone’s voice can be heard without reprisals. A fragile freedom seen shrinking by the day.

Roland Jutras

Meredith

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