July 17, 2013

Legion preserves military legacies

When the military presents an award or decoration, usually a medal of some sort, to a service member, it is a distinctively designed mark of honor denoting heroism, or meritorious or outstanding service or achievement. So it is no wonder that such awards are often prominently showcased in one’s home, framed and hanging on a wall or encased in a display.

Sometimes the medals are displayed as a remembrance to one who gave his or her all in battle and as a reminder that that sacrifice will not be forgotten.

That was the case recently when the late Maebell Cruse of Chatsworth wanted to ensure her son’s memory will live on after her death.

Her son, Gary Cruse, who attended Murray County High School, was shot and killed in a battle on Black Virgin Mountain in 1968 during the Vietnam War. She had kept his numerous medals, including a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts, encased in a collection with a folded American flag and a picture of him.

This set recently was donated to American Legion Post 167 in Chatsworth where it will be on permanent display along with other photos of men killed in combat and a plaque listing Murray County recipients of the Purple Heart.

This is a very important donation. Too often, military awards are lost or forgotten when they are passed down to generations that may not place proper significance on them since they never knew the recipient.

As part of a permanent display at the American Legion, the medals — and thus their recipient — will live on. The Legion offers a place where veterans will see the display and appreciate its meaning.

“We will keep alive Gary’s memory, as well as others from Murray County who have given their lives in service to our country,” said post member Bruce Kendrick, who presented the medals on behalf of the family to the Chatsworth post. “Maebell spent the last 45 years keeping his memory alive. ... We’ll always keep his name going.”

We couldn’t ask for a better way of remembrance.

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