June 2, 2011

One Nation Under God, Indivisible...

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A warm, blustery Monday morning was embraced by a crowd of hundreds on the southeast corner of the Memphis City Square as the community gathered near the memorial statue on the court house lawn for the 65th annual Memorial Day Celebration hosted by the Wallace W. Gillespie Memorial Post #4958 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Old Glory was escorted to her place of honor in the ceremony by the VFW Color Guard as dozens of veterans marched into position with accompaniment by the ladies auxiliary in their traditional red uniforms.

The history of the veterans there to pay their respect to fallen comrades was offset by the youth of the newest version of the Scotland County music program. The junior high band, under the direction of Jamie Hicks, performed the Star Spangled Banner to set the tone for the morning's tribute.

Judge Gary Dial allowed the event's featured speaker an opportunity to catch his breath by offering a stirring introduction, although he himself noted that no such prologue was needed for one of Memphis's most recognizable citizen's.

Dr. Harlo Donelson is no stranger to most of Memphis. He has been providing dental services to area residents for nearly half a century.

What many may not realize, is Dr. Doneslon was a soldier before he became a dentist. After graduating Palmyra High School in 1950 and Hannibal-LaGrange College in 1953, Donelson was drafted into the United States Army. Harlo served as a combat engineer for B Company, First Division in Germany.

Fortunately for Scotland County, he returned to northeast Missouri following his release, and he entered the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Dentistry in 1958, graduating four years later with a Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree.

While he came home from war, Doneslon's message focused on those who were less fortunate.

"Those soldiers who died in all our wars, they did their duty, and we know who they are," Doneslon said "We visit the cemeteries and note the dates of their shortened lives on the headstones. We know their loved ones, their wives and mothers, and their children, and the friends who shall always miss them."

The doctor also gave just due to his comrades who did make it home, and those who are still waiting to make that trip back from overseas.

"These citizen-warriors are among us today," Doneslon told the crowd. "Look at what they are, what they have done for their country and the cause of freedom around the world. Honor them and their comrades. We should look at what they did, how they did it and in doing so, honor them by imitating their courage, their sacrifice and their excellence. Their accomplishments are astonishing to us and we should learn from them."

The patriotic orator went on to praise his country, emphatically explaining what each line of the Pledge of Allegiance meant to him.

Doneslon borrowed the words of historian Victor Davis Hanson when he exclaimed "Thank God we don't have to fight anyone like ourselves!"

He went on to quote President Abraham Lincoln, who said "Gold is good, in its place; but brave, patriotic men, are better."

Based on those astute words, Scotland County can count itself rival to Fort Knox, where more than 5,000 tons of the nation's gold reserve are stored, with equally impressive reserves of patriotic men, and women, who have and continue to serve their country.

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