Cousin Fred Self on Hand for Memorial Dedication
My attention was drawn to the article by the photograph that accompanied it. The name Fred Self stood out in bold letters under the picture, along with the names of Archie Whitehead and Marlow Hearon, veterans who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. They were pictured standing near the newly erected monument. All three were present for the dedication of the monument which was attended by about 200 people on Saturday, August 27th.
I knew cousin Fred was a veteran of World War II and this newspaper article brought to my remembrance something I once heard him say concerning his military service. Fred is a Baptist minister and his comments were made during a sermon he preached at a revival meeting at Union Grove Baptist Church on July 27, 1980. It took me awhile to find it, but I happen to have an audio tape of that particular sermon. The following quote is in Fred's own words.
"I remember when I come back from the service. I come in to the New York Harbor. Oh, how glad I was to get home. I remember when we come into sight of that big city. I could begin to see the big skyline of new York. I had been gone for about 28, 29 months, something like that. The war was over. I had lived through it, which a lot of 'em did not, which a lot of 'em did not. I had 276 men in my Company. Only 48 of us come back home. I had 42 men in my Platoon. Only 8 of us come back home. There was 13 men in my Squad. There was only one come back. That was me. I couldn't understand it. I remember when I come in. The old ship pulled into New York Harbor. The war was over. My, they had the bands there and they began to strike up the bands and began to play. Boy, just made cold chills run over me. We got just a little closer in. They just took us around, uh, Old Glory, you know, the Statue of Liberty, let us look at, oh, I'll never forget how I felt... We come in pretty close to the docks. We could see fathers, mothers, children, little boys, little girls who was able, you know, to come to New York and meet their husbands, their children, their sons coming back home. They was there. Ah, they'd wave when they'd recognize a family and they'd see their boy, they'd wave and they'd throw kisses."
This personal account by Fred stayed with me all these years. I don't think I will ever forget it. I am glad he did make it back home. His service to his country is to be commended and I am glad he and many others are now being recognized for their service. They certainly deserve our heartfelt gratitude and that of a grateful nation. Fred is the son of the late Luther Self. He and his wife Anna Mae live in Maryville, Tennessee.