Faded names on stones

Posted on May 31, 2010 by

2


Just another stone in a cemetery…

But wait, he was a soldier… and he died in the closing weeks of the First World War…

Makes you wonder a bit, huh? Or does it really?

Who was the man? How did he die? Who were his parents, siblings, and maybe he had a wife. Did he have children? They knew him. They mourned his loss. What do you know about him other than the stone? Should you know more? Why bother?

As for his story…

The remains of John W. Walter, of the American Expeditionary Forces, son of John H. Walter, of Bentonville, were landed at Hoboken, N.J. on July 15th and will e brought to his late home at Bentonville in a few days. Young Walter’s father was an undertaker at Luray a few years ago. The youth who was killed when nineteen years of age volunteered at Washington, D.C. at the outbreak of the Mexican trouble in 1916, and was one of the first soldiers to be sent to France. He belonged to the 315th Infantry. He was awarded the croix de guerre of France and the American distinguished service cross. According to the official citation he was acting as officer of an infantry squad, his superiors having been killed or wounded, when he was twice wounded in taking a machine gun. In spite of his wounds which caused his death two days later, he killed with his revolver three Germans who were manning the gun. Then sitting on a stretcher he made four Germans carry him back into the American lines at the point of a revolver. The medals are now in the possession of his father who has numerous old friends in this county. The young hero’s great grandfather, James Walter, started in the undertaking business in Luray about seventy years ago. Afterwards, James Walter’s son, Robert Walter, conducted the business and was succeeded by John Walter, his son. The young soldier leaves two brothers, George Walter, of the U.S. merchant marine, and Robert Walter, at home, and one sister, Mrs. Mamie Williams of Washington, D.C. That of the Walter family is fighting stock is also exemplified by the history of George Walter, an older brother of John Walter, who before the United States got into the fray, paid his own way to England, joined the London Artillery, was wounded, returned to America with several war medals, met the American soldiers going across, immediately joined the Marines and got to France in time to take part in the memorable achievements of that branch of the American service. After rising to the rank of sergeant in the Marines, he left the service and went with the shipping board. Prior to the Word War he was in the Philippines for six years.

No… no relation to me, but I took the time to learn about him beyond the stone…

Take time from your Memorial Day weekend sales, your grilling, your pool’s opening day, your first day at the beach, etc., etc…. to focus on the real meaning behind today. Despite what many may think, it wasn’t meant to be about sales, grilling, and pools. Rather, it was a day set aside to remember sacrifices made for your freedoms. Be sure to take time to walk silently in a cemetery, stop at the stone of a fallen veteran, reflect, think, and pay your respects to those people who fell… for you. Take time to understand the sacrifice that people like this man made… to learn more about the stories behind the stones… about the person… about the soldier, sailor, marine, or airman. For just a little while, take time to think about the loneliness they felt at times, the fear, the courage, the anguish, the misery, the suffering, the pain, the blood, the tears… remember

It’s the very least you could do in 1 out of 365 days in a year… and on the day that was meant specifically for this reason.

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