Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 13, 2005



By Cassandra Mickens

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The Selma Times-Journal

American flags waved, tears were shed and salutes were given at Memorial Field during a Veteran’s Day ceremony Friday morning.

Patriotic music blared from the speakers as guests filed in for the event , sponsored by the American Legion Post 20 of Selma.

Retired former U.S. Marine Byrd Looper officiated the ceremony.

Looper recognized native Selmians who served in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and the 122nd Command Support Group that recently returned from the war in Iraq.

Looper went on to introduce Jack Lucas, the ceremony’s special guest speaker. Lucas, a native of Plymouth, N.C., is the youngest American ever to receive the country’s highest military award, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Former president Harry Truman presented Lucas with the medal on Oct. 5, 1945.

Six days after his 17th birthday on Feb. 20, 1945, Lucas was in combat as an U.S. marine in Iwo Jima during World War II. He saved the lives of his fellow comrades by throwing his body over enemy grenades, sustaining horrible wounds.

But he lived to tell his story.

Lucas currently resides in Hattiesburg, Miss., with his wife Ruby. He is one of 42 living Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients from World War II.

As Lucas spoke in front of Selma’s World War II memorial, he reminded the audience of America’s true heroes. Heroes are not movie stars or politicians, Lucas said, but the men and women who sacrificed their lives for freedom and democracy.

Lucas concluded his speech by urging all Americans to stand behind soldiers who are now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lucas received a standing ovation from the audience.

As the ceremony drew to close, family members placed red, white and blue flowers near the memorial for loved ones who served during the nation’s wars while the military song &8220;Taps&8221; played in the background, ending the Veteran’s Day celebration.