Community honors fallen heroes on Memorial Day

Mark Wilson
A Memorial Day service took place in downtown Glen Rose Monday.

They are gone, yet live on in the memories of those who appreciate the sacrifice of our military members who didn’t didn’t survive.

That’s the message carried on through Memorial Day, and Monday was no different on the square in downtown Glen Rose.

Members of the Oliver Wendell Buzan American Legion Post 462 organized the ceremony, with Post Commander and City Council member Robert Marquez delivering a brief message to the crowd gathered in front of the Somervell County Courthouse.

“This day is probably one of the hardest days for most veterans,” Marquez said after the ceremony.

 “You could be 20 or 80 or 90, and you know someone we have lost in service (to the country),” said Marquez, who served in the Marines from 1998-2014, finishing his service with a rank of Staff Sgt. “As long as the names are remembered, they will remain alive in our hearts.”

Earlier, during his message to the crowd, Marquez read a poem about World War I titled “The Rain Drops on Your Old Tin Hat.” It was written by Army infantryman J.H. Wickersham, who was wounded in that war and was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Buzan was an Army soldier from Somervell County who died in battle during World War I. A wreath was placed at the memorial on the square, where the American flag was kept at half staff until noon for the occasion. A single bagpipe player was on hand to perform a couple of tunes.

Marquez remarked that our veterans’ “sacrifice will not be forgotten,” and noted that “what they lacked in time was made up for in valor.”

Shortly after the downtown ceremony, a wreath was laid in memory of 2003 Glen Rose High School graduate Rhett Butler, who was the last Somervell County military casualty of war. Butler was honored just inside the entrance to Heritage Park on East Elm Street in Glen Rose. Butler was killed in action when the vehicle he was in was damaged by an explosive device near Baghdad on June 20, 2007,

Steve Gattis, 68, a Vietnam veteran who has lived in Somervell County since 2004, said he several of his Army friends never returned to the U.S. from that war — and even some who did return also paid the ultimate price.

“I lost a lot of buddies in the war, and since then due to Agent Orange,” said Gattis, who is currently in his fifth year serving as the post’s chaplain.

Gattis said that his cousin, Roscoe Ware, was a victim of Agent Orange years after he returned home. “It just follows you home.”

“Gattis gestured to his heart as he said, “It’s captured in here because the (unit) I was in lost 110 in Thailand, and we lost 137 due to complications from Agent Orange.”

Ware founded the Somervell County American Legion Post, Gattis said.

“I think of him and what he suffered,” Gattis said. “There is a big difference between Memorial Day (honoring those who died) and Veterans Day (for all veterans). Deep in the heart, it causes reflection, and that reflection brings in the memory of friends we lost — their faces, which are captured in eternal youth and did not age as we aged.”

Gattis said that one of the fellow soldiers he met while serving in Vietnam was Larry Fleming, who resides just north of Glen Rose. They stayed in contact even though Gattis was in California, where he retired in 2003 as a lieutenant with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Fleming’s high praise of the Glen Rose community convinced Gattis to move here, he said. He did so — and now they are next-door neighbors.