Follow The Republic:
Do you know that feeling you get when you’re at an event, and after hearing a perfect rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a flight of F-16s passes overhead in the missing man formation? Have you experienced that feeling where your chest swells with pride, tears form in your eyes, and your breath catches in your throat?
As a family member of Pfc. Manley F. Winkley, we’d like to sincerely thank your communities and citizens for giving our family that feeling for two days. Municipalities, small towns, airport personnel, current and former armed forces members and everyday people stopped what they were doing to pay their respects to two men they may have never heard of before.
People on the highways, trying to make it to their destinations only to be detained for up to 10 minutes as we passed, politely stepping from their vehicles to pay their respects, little girls waving flags with their hands over their hearts, old men in shirts and ties, wearing their faded blue caps bearing the names of their lost and forgotten naval vessels saluting as we passed, city and rural firefighters and law enforcement officers at attention at every intersection, the respect-demanding roar of 300-plus motorcycles bedecked with flags. These are the sights that greeted us for our entire journey from Nashville to Madison on Aug. 24.
No one in our family will ever be the same because of this day, not because of our loss, but because of what we found. In a society that seems to be ever divided, politics were forgotten. For one day we were all proud Americans, regardless of political affiliations, backgrounds, age or beliefs.
The members of the Winkley family sincerely thank everyone who was present for this remarkable event. Never would we have believed that we could have touched, and been touched, by so many strangers. Thank you for remembering and honoring two individuals from our “Greatest Generation.”
These men and women are quickly fading into history, and their stories will go with them (like Mr. Vollmer of Nashville, who was trying to get a generator ashore on Tarawa moments after Manley was killed, who stopped by the funeral home to pay his respects and share his stories with us). We appreciate your taking the time to remember and honor just two of them, but hope that you will continue to do the same for others. They all deserve a hero’s welcome, even if it’s 70 years too late.
There are too many to thank, so please forgive us for any omissions, as none are intended: Indiana State Police, Rolling Thunder, Patriot Guard, every city, town, and hamlet along the procession route, the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Madison and guest speakers, the American Red Cross, the many veterans’ organizations, JPAC, History Flight, the United States Marine Corps, Bond-Mitchell Funeral Home, the police, firefighters and EMTs who guided us from the airport Aug. 23 and to Madison on Aug. 24, and the countless people who were present to witness and participate in this historic event.
We sincerely hope that it will remain in your hearts and minds as it will in ours.
This letter was received on Aug. 27 from Joshua D. Fitzgerald of Franklin.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.