Honoring our Veterans - The Lucy Caldwell Way

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What are some things which might come into one’s mind when asked the question: “What are you thankful for?” Some might say family. Others may say freedom of speech, or the right to practice your religion of choice. While our God given rights may be permanently enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, at the end of the day, the Constitution by itself is an amalgamation of paper and ink. Our rights and laws would be meaningless without the brave individuals who willingly make the choice to protect these freedoms by serving in our armed forces.  

Friday, November 11 is Veterans Day- a day to honor those who have answered the call of duty and made sacrifices to keep our country safe. Veterans Day, originally known as “Armistice Day” marks the anniversary of the historic ceasefire between the Allies and the Central Powers during World War I, on November 11, 1918. It is a day to honor all veterans of the U.S. military who have served in our armed forces: the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and of course the Marine Corps, which celebrates its birthday the day before, on November 10.

A memorial dedicated to veterans of the Vietnam War can be found in Charlotte, North Carolina. At the Mecklenberg County Vietnam Veterans Memorial, visitors can view the names of those who gave their lives in service of the U.S. during that brutal conflict. There are still many Vietnam veterans alive today who will never forget the horrors of that war. While our uniformed servicemembers experienced the brunt of the vicissitudes the conflict in Vietnam had to offer, many civilians stepped up to support and care for our servicemembers in their direst times of need.

One of these notable civilians was Lucy Caldwell- the wife of famed Princeton football coach Charlie Caldwell. At the age of 56 years old, Lucy volunteered with the United Service Organizations (USO) to aid the weary, wounded Marines in field hospitals. The Marines she cared for became known as “Lucy’s Boys.” One of Lucy’s Boys included a Marine Lieutenant from Georgetown, S.C. named Clebe McClary. Due to injuries sustained on the battlefield, McClary was unable to write home to his wife to let her know he was alive. Lucy Caldwell took the time to dictate the letter for Lt. McClary, which his wife Deanna McClary was elated to receive.

Lucy Caldwell made a tremendous positive impact for the many Marines she aided during the Vietnam War. Needless to say, when it comes to honoring our veterans, Lucy Caldwell is a role model we can follow. Our veterans rightfully deserve more than one day out of the year to be appreciated. Take a page from Lucy’s handbook- veterans can certainly use our help. Honor them by donating money or volunteering time and services to help out those who laid their lives on the line for us.

In the above Carolina Impact segment, Lieutenant Clebe McClary (USMC, Ret.) and family reflect on their experiences with Lucy, and the impact she left on them as well as the many other servicemembers she aided during Vietnam.