Twenty-seven members of the 1961 class of Theodore high school met for lunch on June 14. We came from across the country and gave testimony that the passage of time spares no one.
Jackie Meacham was not there. Just as he has never been able to attend any of our reunions over the years.
The reason he was not seems especially fitting as we once again salute the men and women who made the supreme sacrifice for their county on another 4th of July.
Army PFC Jack Bennie Meacham lost his life in Viet Nam on Sunday, March 3, 1967. He was 22 years old and had been in Viet Nam less than two months.
Everyone called him Jackie. Just another kid with a flat top haircut in high school on the outskirts of Mobile.. I don ‘t know if he smoked, but it would be easy to imagine a pack of cigarettes rolled in his T-shirt sleeve. Jackie would have been a perfect extra for the movie, Grease. He had a quirky little smile. Just another product of middle America. I have no idea what his ambitions were beyond graduation.. And like most his classmates, I doubt he had ever heard of a tiny country on the other side of the world called Viet Nam.
But when his country called, he didn’t shy away.
Like thousands of others, his name is etched for eternity at the Viet Nam memorial in Washington. Panel 16 E, line 113. On a long ago trip to the nation’s capital I stood in silence before his name and remembered him.
As with any 4th of July, this one will be celebrated with flags and fireworks and parades and speeches by politicians. I will remember Jackie and my daddy who was in WW 11 and his father who was in WW 1. I will offer a prayer for each.
And whether you consider yourself a Republican, Democrat, Tory, Whig or Hotentot, at this point in our history. prayers are certainly needed. When our national “leaders” are far more concerned about self glorification than meeting the needs of their constituents, earnest, heart-felt prayer is all that will save us. They have shown us time and again that they are simply incapable or unconcerned–of meeting our challenges.
Jackie Meacham, and more than 58,000 names etched in that wall, showed us courage.
And so I remember him this Fourth of July.