As of this writing, I am in LaFollette, Tennessee, at the home of my University of Tennessee Army ROTC classmate and friend retired Lieutenant Colonel Logan Hickman. It is military alumni reunion weekend on Rocky Top, which happens every five years. It is great to return to my alma mater and see dear old friends, and meet new ones, who share a bond of commitment to this great nation. As we get ready to enjoy Thanksgiving, my thoughts are centered on giving thanks for a very special quality about our country.
Yes, we will gather and give thanks for our families, life, health, and strength. Our family will certainly be giving thanks for the birth of our cherished little one, Levi Allen. He will be 35 weeks and is thriving, having been born at 29 weeks. I give thanks to all the medical professionals looking after our little preemie babies all across the land. I ask God for a special blessing upon these little ones.
But, there is something unique about America that enables us to live in this incredible country, this Constitutional Republic, where we can give thanks. I do not consider it coincidental that we have Thanksgiving in the same month we honor our veterans.
This past Friday, I had the distinct pleasure and honor of attending a monument dedication to one of our nation’s most recent Medal of Honor recipients, US Army First Lieutenant Larry L. Taylor. 1LT Taylor joins that distinguished, and select, group of men who have displayed “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.” 1LT Taylor earned this distinction during the Vietnam War and was presented his Medal of Honor in July of 2023. He was an Army Aviator, AH-1 Cobra gunship pilot, who responded to a call for help from a four-man Ranger reconnaissance team that was surrounded near the village of Ap Go Cong on June 18,1968. Taylor and his wingman provided much-needed aerial fire support while taking ground fire until they almost ran out of ammunition. Realizing the dire situation for the ground reconnaissance element, he requested to land and extract the team. His request was denied by his command. 1LT Taylor disregarded the order.
With his final remaining minigun rounds, he cleared an extraction route for the recon team to a clearing. He sat down his Cobra gunship and enabled the team to latch onto the skids and expended rocket pods, flying them to safety. All of this while under enemy fire.
This Thanksgiving, I give thanks for men and women like US Army 1LT Larry L. Taylor. This nation should give thanks that we have raised, and still are raising, and prayerfully always will raise up generations willing to honor the tradition of conspicuous gallantry, and service. We do not have the freedoms and liberties we enjoy sitting down and having a blessed Thanksgiving meal if not for them. Sure, America is undergoing some very intense issues and struggles, and trust me, we shall prevail over the darkness that threatens our shining beacon of light. But there is no other place in the world that I would rather be than here. Yes, fighting still. There is no other place where I can fry up my Thanksgiving turkey, have some sweet potato pie, and watch college football!
There is no place where I can remember the gallantry of my own dad who served this nation in World War II. Or call up my older brother who served this nation in Vietnam, just like Larry Taylor, as a Marine infantryman and was wounded at a place called Khe Sahn. I can hold my wife Angela’s hand as we give thanks for her dad who served in Vietnam as an Army infantryman. We should all never forget to say those two words our Vietnam veterans didn’t hear, “Welcome home.”
I give thanks that US Army 1LT Larry L. Taylor and I have two things in common. We are both graduates of the University of Tennessee and were commissioned as officers from here. We both earned the moniker and uphold the legacy of Tennessee Volunteers, the Army ROTC cadets who served in the Mexican War. We both served in combat with the renowned US Army First Infantry Division, the famed “Big Red One.”
The legacy of conspicuous gallantry is what we should cherish here in America, and for which we should give thanks. If you are ever traveling through ol’ Rocky Top, Knoxville, Tennessee, stop by the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial down in the World’s Fair Plaza. You will see the beautiful monument to 1LT Larry L. Taylor and other East Tennessee Medal of Honor recipients, like Army SGT Alvin York from World War I. You will also see the names, by war; those who gave the last full measure of devotion, service above self. If we can spend an entire month in the summer dedicated to sexual perversion and deviancy, surely we can take this entire month of November, not just a day, to honor and give thanks for “Conspicuous Gallantry”which is certainly a greater measure of pride for this nation.
This Thanksgiving, may no American Veteran be denied a steaming hot meal of turkey, ham, dressing, sweet potato casserole, and all the pie they want. Their gallantry deserves our thanks, and this nation must never accept homelessness for our veterans. I am quite sure there will be much attention to illegal immigrants having a nice meal. There must be no Veteran home alone on this, or any other, Thanksgiving Day.
1LT Larry L. Taylor is still with us, I wish him and all the men and women who have worn, and are wearing, the uniform of these United States of America serving with gallantry and valor a very Happy Thanksgiving Day, and God’s blessings!
Steadfast and Loyal.
This article first appeared at Townhall.com.