For veterans gathered Saturday morning at Church of Christ, Veterans Day was a chance to honor those who fought before them. Congressman Ralph Norman, R-SC, said church was the best place to do that.
“What greater place to be on Veterans Day, than in a church,” Norman told the audience at the church on Gold Hill Road in Fort Mill. “And I can tell you that I’ve been in Congress now for, what, nine weeks. And I will tell you, the only answer for this country, for all the problems is one word, and it’s God.”
Norman thanked the almost 40 veterans and their families who gathered for service at the church. He quoted a poem paying respect to U.S. soldiers.
The poem, “It is the Soldier,” sometimes attributed to an anonymous author and sometimes attributed to U.S. Army veteran Charles M. Province, recognizes soldiers’ contributions to America’s freedoms, saying: “It is the soldier, not the minister who has given us freedom of religion. It is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet who has given us freedom of speech ...”
The poem’s original ending reads: “It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”
But Norman changed the last line amid his reading.
“It is the veteran who salutes the flag, it is the veteran who serves under the flag, to be buried by the flag so that the protectors can go and be – and serve under the flag,” Norman said.
Norman didn’t mention protestors, but he said any change in the poem was unintentional.
He said he must have misread his handwriting.
Josh Buchanan, who organized the event at the church and served as an infantry captain in the U.S. Army for about six years, said he was thankful to have Norman at the event.
“Being a veteran in this country is such an honor,” Buchanan said. “And it’s so humbling because the amount of appreciation and gratitude that you see every day in nearly every walk of life.”
Alan Jopson, who served 15 months in Afghanistan, said events like Saturday at the church “mean everything” to him.
“Our children are growing up in a free country primarily because of their sacrifice for us,” Jopson said. “And future generations are going to have the same opportunity that we have because of the men and women who fought before us.”
Buchanan said he received so much help and appreciation when he returned from combat. He wants to make sure that’s passed along to all veterans.
“No matter how many times you say that, it never gets old, thanking someone for their service,” Buchanan said. “And we can never do it enough.”
Hannah Smoot: 803-329-4068