A few dozen community members attended the 67th annual Community Memorial Day Service in Commerce on Monday.
The service is organized each year by the Captain Charles Croxall Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Commerce Mayor Pro Tempore Gene Lockhart delivered a proclamation near the beginning of the meeting, officially proclaiming May 27, 2019 as a day of remembrance in the city of Commerce.
This year’s speaker during the service was John Bartley Silman, a Vietnam War veteran and a 49-year educator.
Silman graduated from Cooper High School and then later graduated from East Texas State University (now-Texas A&M University-Commerce) in 1969. He was drafted two days after his graduation and was later stationed in South Vietnam.
Silman recounted his experiences; How after being drafted, he got on a Greyhound bus headed for Dallas from Sulphur Springs, and then was sent to Fort Bliss in El Paso for his basic training. He recalled that the flight from Dallas to El Paso was the first time he ever flew on a plane. He was then transferred to Fort Hood before being sent to Vietnam. There he served in the Army’s 1st Aviation Brigade and was stationed at a base not far from Saigon, the South Vietnamese capitol.
Silman remembered how he and his wife had to communicate by letter, and how there was a seven-day gap between sending a letter and it getting to the recipient. He also explained how it was difficult to know who was an ally and who was an enemy due to the nature of heavy guerrilla warfare in the area, and how the Tet Offensive in 1969 displayed the limits of American military power in southeast Asia.
He added that he believed that Vietnam was unique in American history with how divisive the war was, but that he was proud to have served.
“There’s a saying that no one who gets sent off to war comes back unwounded,” Silman said. “Nothing can replace the void left by a fallen service member.”
Silman had been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in Vietnam.
The ceremony ended with a rifle salute by the Hunt County Veteran’s Honor Guard and the playing of “Taps” by father-son duo Rob and Michael McWhorter.