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Memorial Day Memories

Updated on May 26, 2010

In Flander's Field

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow  Between the crosses, row on row,"
John McCrae's poem inspired the sale of poppies to observe Memorial Day and honor those military service people who gave the ultimate for their country.  Eight hundred fifty World War II veterans die every day (estimated).  A year ago the median age of a World War II veteran was 86.  As of September 30, 2009 there were approximately 2,272,000 living. Using the 850 per day figure, that puts the number still alive down to 2.1 million -- but as they get older, the daily death rate will most likely increase.

When I first heard those numbers, they seemed high, until it was pointed out that more than 16,000,000 Americans had seen action in World War II.  One of them was James Hyatt. Hyatt served in the U.S. Army Signal Corp.  His unit was in Patton's Third Army and responsible for land communications such as telephones.
After the war, Hyatt returned to the mountains of Western North Carolina and with his wife became well known in square dance and clogging organizations.  His street was eventually named for his avocation as a "dance caller".  In retirement from his civilian occupation, he developed COPD and always had an oxygen tank nearby. 

U.S. Marine Band leads the parade.
U.S. Marine Band leads the parade.

State Senator Joe Sam Queen

Instrumental in organizing parade.
Instrumental in organizing parade.

 North Carolina State Senator Joe Sam Queen, a long-time family friend of Hyatt's was instrumental in organizing the 2008 Memorial Day Parade in  Waynesville, NC.  Queen was surprised and enthusiastic about Mr. Hyatt's extemporaneous participation in the parade.  Hyatt and his family were seated on the parade route enjoying the show, when Hyatt made the decision not to let this parade continue without him.

 The end of the parade was approaching, so Hyatt grabbed his portable oxygen tank and got to his feet. He stepped off the curb and began his march down Main Street behind the last unit.  Hyatt’s spontaneous participation was a fresh and unexpected surprise.  Everyone thought the parade was over.  The crowd lining the parade route experienced a contagious emotional reaction that began with smiles, waves, and cheers. For many observers, Hyatt personified their patriotism, loyalty, and resolve. A young boy joined him and waved a flag.  Many veterans and supporters stepped out into the street and shook his hand; many saluted. When he reached the end of the parade route, there was scarcely a dry eye on Main Street.

Last week I had the chance to speak to Senator Queen about his long-time family friend. "Mr. Jim was a great man -- a great mountain man.  He was a great square dancer and caller.  Our families go way back. He was a dear friend.  He was a loyal patriot and loved his country." 

Hyatt's march inspires the crowd.

Image Copyright 2008 Etier Photography
Image Copyright 2008 Etier Photography

Mr. Hyatt’s decision to join this parade was timely. He died on July 19, 2008 leaving us this timeless image of dignity, courage, and determination as he passed the torch to the next generation.

"The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields."

Veteran Status

Regarding World War II:

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Buy related items at Amazon

America at War in Color: Unique Images of the American Experience in World War II
America at War in Color: Unique Images of the American Experience in World War II

Great COLOR photos. See the war the way the soldiers saw it. Not in black and white.



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    • FCEtier profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Cold Mountain


      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Your words along with that last picture left me speechless. thank you

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Wonderful post, and the image is incredibly strong, as Tom Hanks well said" The Greatest Generation that Ever Lived

    • bayoulady profile image


      8 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Beautiful! Daddy died in 2003 at the age of 81, and I don't think he ever got over the horrors of WW Two.Freedom is not cheap. God bless our veterans.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      I'm a Marine and Vet of Vietnam. Every citizen MUST serve his/her country and fellow man. We must lift each other up. If we are to fight- let our fight be for justice for everyone. Let's not fight wars that are orchestrated for gain or comfort, but for compassion for our fellow man and truth!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Share the fact and hope for love and peace..........

      Nice post

    • FCEtier profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Thank you Stars. I appreciate your stopping by and I REALLY appreciate your comment.

    • stars439 profile image


      8 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Your skill in writing is magnificent. I am also deeply touched by what World War 2 caused. My father was a veteran and victim of that war. I was a little boy, but I wanted to kill Hitler for what he did and caused in our World. Americans, English, French, Polish, Hungry, Russian, Japanese, mass murder, Concentration camps, and the annialation of Germany by the fool himself. I was a little boy. My father , a brave, strong tall man, courageous, never had peace in his mind because of that little crazy man. My father was a combat soldier.

      At the age of six I would have been brave enough to pull the trigger of and M-1 or a Luger to give Hitler a dirt nap for the millions of lives he killed , and for the sorrow he put in the hearts of generations of souls.

      So many grown men were also cowards for letting him get as far as he did. So many men without balls let him murder enough women , and children, and sweet old people to fill up Heaven. May Hell forever burn to know end on the fuel of gutless men that permitted him to be Furer. How could his Generals let him do what he did. I loved my father so dearly. He was the finest most decent man I ever knew in this world. I had no heros accept my father. Hitler made a man killer out of my father, and my father saw his best friends die from shattered brains from rifle shells. God Bless You Sir. My father was and American Infantry soldier and platoon sergeant and front line fighting jungle soldier from the Black Hawk Division. Still a very sweet, kind,and very loving father.

    • FCEtier profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Thanks, Sheri, Cherrie, and KJ. I appreciate your stopping by, reading, and commenting.

    • K J Page profile image

      K J Page 

      8 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Your story brought tears to my eyes............

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Both articles were concise, informative and sweet. Good job!

    • SheriSapp profile image


      8 years ago from West Virginia

      Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and inspiring story. God bless our veterans and God Bless America!!

    • FCEtier profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Thanks Mentalist!

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      8 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      An inspirational Hub for an inspirational man...we miss you here in Louisiana,FCEtier..!!

    • FCEtier profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Thanks ToL.

    • Talons of Liberty profile image

      Talons of Liberty 

      8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Nice post. If only more Americans would read this.


    • FCEtier profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Cold Mountain

      De Greek & BJ,

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • BJBenson profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you for thinking of our men and women.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 

      8 years ago from UK

      How sweet this was... Thank you

    • FCEtier profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Thank you all for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is a beautiful hub about a great man and I very much enjoyed the read. Thanks.

    • Joshua Kell profile image

      Levi Joshua Kell 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      A wonderful hub. Thank you.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      This was a lovely, well-written tribute not only to James Hyatt but to all the World War II veterans as well. Thanks for sharing this poignant story.


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