Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving Day are both celebrated in the month of November. We should be very thankful to God for the men and women who have served our country during difficult times of war.
I'd like to tell you about one young man who didn't return. His name, David Carroll, is inscribed on the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., panel 25E-line 91. He was a member of The Imperial Tenderlines, 16th & Wallace Streets. Unable to escape the hopelessness of North Philly, he decided, at age 17, to join the Army. I remember him saying to me that Vietnam couldn't be any worse than his neighborhood.
David was shipped over to Vietnam shortly after boot camp. He and I had quite a prayer meeting the night before he left. In fact, his notes to me during that first tour of duty always ended requesting our prayers. An article in The Evening Bulletin, May 11, 1966, highlighted one of David's heroic combat adventures. David and his patrol had discovered an underground tunnel where a Viet Cong patrol was hiding. David wound up being the hero.
David came home from Vietnam, but almost immediately decided to return for a second tour of duty. "I've been lucky," he said, "plus I feel like I do more good in 'Nam than I do here."
On September 3, 1966, David died in a helicopter crash over the jungles of South Vietnam.
I took a carload of his corner boys to his funeral service and burial in Trenton. The visual image of the solitary bugler playing "Taps" at the close of David's graveside service haunts me to this day.
I thank God for all who have paid the supreme sacrifice for our freedom, but this month I'd like to thank Him especially for African-American and Latino men and women who gave their lives on our behalf. I worked with young men who attended Edison High School during the Vietnam War years. Edison gave - and lost - the highest percentage of their graduates and former students to that war than any other high school in America. For many of them, as it was for David, it was the only way out of the ghetto.