By Ed Brock
Securing the "blessing of liberty" is the business of this generation, according to U.S. 1st Army Commander Lt. Gen. Joseph R. Inge.
In a speech during a Veterans Day luncheon Thursday at the Get Away Club at Fort Gillem, Inge said the idea came from a conversation he had with a man during another function.
They had been talking about bringing up the next generation correctly.
"He said that the most important thing the current generation has to do is secure the blessing of liberty for the next generation," Inge said. "Without liberty we won't be able to bring them up."
The event was sixth annual Veterans Day luncheon sponsored by the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council and about 170 people, including uniformed military personnel, civilians and veterans attended. The guests of honor included Ron Young Sr. and his wife Kaye, the parents of former Iraq War prisoner of war Ron Young Jr., and George Rincon, the father of Army Pvt. Diego Fernando Rincon.
Rincon, born in a small clinic in a suburb of Bogota, the capital of Colombia, on May 7, 1983, was posthumously granted citizenship after being killed in Iraq.
Inge stood before the crowd in a battle dress uniform instead of a Class A dress uniform.
That was a conscious choice, Inge said.
"I think we should remember at this time that our nation is at war," Inge said. "I think it's fitting that if you're in the military today leading soldiers you should be in this uniform."
During these troubled times many people talk about the sacrifices that service people are making, Inge said.
"I prefer that we say the hardships of our service people. To me and mine it's not a sacrifice to serve our country, it's an honor," Inge said.
But some do make the ultimate sacrifice, Inge said, including Diego Rincon.
"He gave his life so that we may secure the blessing of liberty for ourselves and our posterity," Inge said. "We owe him a great debt."
Inge's speech was very touching for George Rincon who lives in Conyers.
"The words that he said were very profound. This is all very hard for me since I heard about Diego's passing," Rincon said. "It was very nice to hear words like that especially coming from somebody at the top."
Diego's older brother, 21-year-old Fabian Rincon, also came to the luncheon and said he really enjoyed being in a room full of veterans.
"It just brings it all full circle," Fabian Rincon said. "I think my brother died for an honorable cause. He died for peace ? that's our ultimate goal."
The family has a Web site dedicated to Diego Rincon at www.diegorincon.com.
Ron Young Sr. said his son was speaking at an event in Jackson, Miss., and couldn't attend Thursday's luncheon. Ron Young Jr.'s Apache helicopter was shot down in the early days of the recent war in Iraq and he was held prisoner for three weeks before being released.
Being at the luncheon made Ron Young Sr., who lives in Lithia Springs, really appreciate the heroes who serve our country, Young said, and he completely agreed with Inge's speech about that how that service is not a sacrifice.
"I was thinking about that last night," said Young who also served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. "What Ron did was an honor. It was an honor for him to serve mankind."
Kaye Young said Inge's speech was "absolutely right on as far as I'm concerned."