Roy Exum: Salutes To Our Heroes

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The Chattanooga community will get two chances to honor America’s heroes on Friday when a Gold Star Memorial is dedicated to “The Fallen Five” before a star-studded American Heroes Dinner will feature Oliver North at the Convention Center.

Candace Chazen, representing the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs, will unveil a Gold Star Memorial Marker at the Navy & Marine Recruiting Depot on Amnicola Highway where, on July 16, 2015, five Marines and one Navy sailor where attacked and shot by a terrorist. The marker will stand in memory of Marine Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Navy Specialist Randall Smith, Marine Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Marine Lance Cpl. Skip Wells, and Marine Sgt. David A. Wyatt.

Retired Navy Capt. Mickey McCamish and retired Army Capt. Larry Taylor will make remarks at the unveiling, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. Lt. Commander Joseph Liner, who commands the Navy Reserve post in Chattanooga, will preside. “The ceremony will be short, allowing those who are attending the American Heroes Banquet, ample time to get there,” said Mrs. Chazen.

“Several years ago the Garden Clubs of America were asked by our country to provide Blue Star Markers in honor of our men and women who have served the nation, as well as Gold Star Markers in memory of those who gave their all,” she said. “I am a member of the Lookout Mountain Garden Club but as the state representative of our district, I want to say how rewarding this is for all of our membership to take part.”

The public is urged to attend, and many plan to attend the banquet, where many “wounded warriors” will join Army Sgt. Andrew Smith of the Honoring The Sacrifice Foundation at 7 p.m. The dinner speaker will be retired Lt. Col. North, a nationally known columnist and commentator. A 22-year veteran of the Marines, Col. North is the author of 13 award-winning books and once served as a security expert in The White House.

The Honoring the Sacrifice Foundation was started by Sgt. Smith and his family after his legs were blown away on his first patrol in Afghanistan. After he was “blown away” again – this by an unprecedented love and admiration of the Chattanooga community upon his Homecoming – Smith created the foundation to help others who have been horribly wounded in combat.

“We have been able to help amputees and others whose lives had been changed forever in about ten different states,” he beamed not long ago, “We even sent a snow-blower for a disabled soldier in Minnesota. The fourth annual American Heroes Dinner is about remembering our heroes … this will be the best ever!”

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ANOTHER SENSELESS STATISTIC IN CHICAGO

Noah Inman, a 13-year-old catcher on the Babe Ruth All-Star baseball team, had a sobering statistic over the weekend. As his teammates played in what was the final tournament of the season, he died in a Chicago hospital, becoming the 353rd homicide of the year in Chicago’s shocking carnage. But he was not counted among the 20 who died in shootings between Friday afternoon and Sunday night

That’s because Noah was actually shot on July 1 some 30 miles from the deadliest city in America. He was playing basketball in a friend’s driveway when what police believe was a bullet fired into the air – maybe in a prelude to Independence Day -- fell from its arc in the sky, freakishly wounding “the boy everybody loved.”

Mayor Tom McDermott of Hammond, Ind., mourned the tragedy. “I don’t know what people (who shoot guns into the air) think happens but the bullets don’t just disappear into thin air …. It’s like getting struck by lightning – so senseless … it’s horrible.”

What else is senseless is that after this past weekend, Chicago is on track to match the 787 homicides that were recorded in 2016. A total of 101 people were shot within the city limits over the extended Fourth of July weekend – 15 fatally – and the gun fire was almost as bad last weekend, 107 shot and 16 dead. That brings the year’s total (Jan. 1-July 8) to 1,923 shootings and 359 homicides in exactly 188 days.

Donald Trump promised “to send in the feds” if the shootings didn’t subside and, in early June the President beefed up the task force with an additional 20 ATF agents, 12 new Chicago police officers, two Illinois state troopers, six intelligence analysts and state and federal prosecutors.

It will take time to incorporate the new officers into the task force but how much time do you have when 1,923 have been shot and 359 are dead?

royexum@aol.com


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