Personal sacrifice takes on a different meaning in time of war.
The ideal of giving of ones self held heavy weight in Ashe County 65 years ago this week.
The facts are detailed in an old copy of the Skyland Post brought to us by Doug Shepherd. A photo of the paper and Shepherd appear elsewhere in this edition. Verna Shepherd was serving his country in France in the month following D-Day, the Allied forces’ landing at Normandy.
He died 65 years ago this week – July 5, 1944. It was a loss o his community and his family.
As much of a loss as his life was, we are astonished at the newspaper’s banner headline relating that Ashe had lost five men to fighting in the time surrounding that date.
Losing five men from such a small population had to claim huge attention and capture the imagination of the county’s residents, many of whom would have claimed some blood relation to the five.
It makes us wonder what the county would have been like had we been able to keep them and not given them up to the war.
These were five men with families and talents and aspirations and a spirit that showed willingness to give up their lives for a cause and for their brother soldiers.
What would men possessing those qualities have done for the county over the last 65 years?
We know that the complexities of the world are too great for us to decide whether we would have been better having them serve us as they did in France or serve Ashe as they could have without a war.
The thoughts of their loss warrant consideration.
Their lives were valuable to this county, their family and to their friends. Their lives were valuable to their country.
Their lives were valuable.
Such thoughts take on fresh meaning when we consider losses we suffer to the current day’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Recently a neighbor from Elkin – an Ashe County kinsman of sorts -- lost his life in the conflict in Afghanistan. That brings the conflict there close enough to home to consider again the preciousness of life and what we gain or lose in the fighting.