Friday, November 17, 2017
The celebration of Veterans Day transcended last Saturday into the current week as Dan Fines, R-MA class of 1967, delivered a presentation to R-MA students on November 13th. He discussed the importance of service to one’s country and how to show gratitude to those who have served.
Fines made the point that service to the country is not just joining the military. It is supporting the nation anyway you can. His key example was World War II (WWII) and the support shown on the home front. Men and women across the United States stepped up to challenge the onslaught of the Axis Powers by providing whatever aid they could. Car manufacturers began making tanks and airplanes, people started growing their own crops so farmers could provide for the troops overseas, canned food drives were held, war bonds were collected, and almost everyone did what they could to help the Allies win the war.
Much like the effort on the home front, Fines is passionate about helping those who served and does whatever he can to show his thanks. He brings many veterans to the memorials dedicated to their exploits and service to the United States--memorials like Iwo Jima, the Vietnam Wall, and the WWII Memorial.
He told the students of various people who have come up to these veterans and thanked them for their service. Fines mentioned that, although it is a nice thing to do, it has no meaning if you do not complement it with action. It is one thing to say, “thank you,” but another to show appreciation. He suggested one way to do this would be to volunteer time to these men and women, just as they volunteered theirs to protect the rights and liberties of a nation.
Fines expanded on the sacrifices certain individuals have made in service to their country and the drastic measures they took to serve. Individuals like Jacklyn Lucas, the youngest recipient of the Medal of Honor. Accompanying Fines was another man who sacrificed for his country: a WWII combat veteran named Corporal Bill Woods.
Corporal Woods was a member of General Patton’s 3rd Army during the 1944-45 campaign in Western Europe. Woods joined the 3rd Army as an infantryman in Luxembourg and would soon find himself in one of the greatest struggles of WWII: the Battle of the Bulge. As he experienced his first exposure to combat, adrenaline coursed through Woods’ veins and left no room for fear.
That all changed when the Germans began their onslaught of artillery fire. Woods and his comrades dug their foxholes in the dirt and prayed to be spared from a direct hit. Woods told the R-MA students, “A hole in the ground was a beautiful thing.”
After the Battle of the Bulge, Woods continued his march east with Patton’s 3rd Army and eventually crossed the Rhine River. From there they moved northeast to Kassel, Germany. It resulted in a battle that would last four days and ultimately put Corporal Woods in the hospital for 51 weeks. A bullet entered just above his right knee and tore through the bottom of his femur. Corporal Woods did not just serve his country. He bled for it.
Woods’ extraordinary story resonated with the students and provided a perspective they never knew. It helped reinforce Fines’ goal to provide an understanding of the extraordinary sacrifice our servicemen and women make to preserve our way of life. R-MA wishes a belated happy Veterans Day to all those who have served.