Dr. Lamore J. Carter was a 19-year-old platoon sergeant and a member of the legendary “Red Ball Express,” the mostly African-American unit that helped ship supplies to Patton’s Army during World War II.James L. Dunn fought in conflicts in the Persian Gulf and retired from the Army in 2004 after 30 years of service.
Simon Flake is an assistant professor of military science at Grambling State University.
They were among the more than 170 veterans and civilians who attended GSU’s Ninth Annual Veterans Day celebration Tuesday in Washington-Johnson Complex.
Keynote speaker Louis C. Wells, the first African-American to command the Army Band in New York City, paraphrased Gen. Douglas McArthur’s farewell speech to West Point in 1962, “Duty, Honor, Country,” while exploring the sometimes-negative experiences of African-American servicemen throughout history.
“Not only did they face the brunt of combat, but they also had to bear the brunt of bigotry and prejudice,” Wells said. “But they had this in their hearts: ‘duty, honor, country.'”
Wells talked about his pride in his children, particularly having them follow in his footsteps. “I think how much of an honor it is to have them serve and how proud I am of them, that they have chosen the path that I chose,” he said.
Military families were on Wells’ mind this day and every Veteran’s Day. “I keep praying that our soliders and their families stay safe and that I continue to do all I can.”
Carter, now 82, who retired as provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at GSU, said he has a reverence for Veterans Day. “It makes me feel so grateful,” he said, explaining that he has been blessed to have had a long life and to see change.
For Dunn, it was a day to remember those who did not return home from combat. “It brings back a lot of memories. A lot of comrades passed and died for our country, and I get really emotional just thinking about it.”
Flake said Veterans Day reinforces his love for country and the military. “It reminds me why I joined the military in the first place: service. It’s all about service. Today, we got to reflect on how great it is to be an American.”
The program honored veterans from all branches of the armed forces and was sponsored by American Legion Post 593 of Grambling, in conjunction with the GSU Army ROTC and the Greater Grambling Chamber of Commerce.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Ewing Collier, commander of Post 593, lauded the program. “We were really pleased with the outcome, pleased with the community support and the university’s support,” he said.
During the ceremony, Post 593 presented checks totaling $1,500 to GSU, the ROTC and the Chamber of Commerce. The contribution also included support for “Packages for Heroes,” one of the service learning projects sponsored by First Year Experience, or FYE, a course taken by all GSU freshmen.
The packages include items such as nonperishable food, toiletries and socks to be sent to service men and women serving in Iraq. FYE students also served as ushers for the event.
Gramblinite reporter Austin Richard and the GSU Media Relations Office contributed to this story.