A Hero's Welcome
|Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor|
July 10, 2004 -- Gary Hall, owner of Northeast Texas Janitorial Service, shows his pride for the community, the nation, and his father with a window display memorializing his dad's military service during World War II, as well as memorabilia of his father's own involvement in the community's centennial celebration that took place 50 years ago.
"I'm proud of him, his accomplishments, and his sacrifices," said Hall of his father, Charles Clifton Hall, who served in the U.S. Army with the 96th Infantry Division. "I'm proud he's still here and I can do this kind of stuff for him to let him know how I feel."
Hall said that when the request went out to business owners asking them to decorate the windows of their establishments for the Sesquicentennial Celebration, he wanted to show his support for the community by participating with a window display that expressed his pride for his father and his country.
"I thought it would be a good way to pay tribute to my Dad," said Hall, who decorated the window of his janitorial business located on Lee Street with old photographs, an American flag, his father's Army uniform, as well as several of his presidential citations and medals, such as the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. "Veterans deserve more praise and recognition."
According to Hall, his father, a staff sergeant and squad leader of a 12-man rifle team fighting in the Philippians and Okinawa, only recently began talking about some of his combat experiences.
"I think a majority of war vets don't talk about it much. But he's finally started opening up a little," explained Hall of his father, who is now in his 80s. "I've never really questioned him about it. I just decided to let him tell me on his own terms. He lost a lot of good friends. Mainly he says that he's at peace with everything that happened."
Charles C. Hall was a member of only the fourth Army division to be given the Presidential Unit Citation for heroism. He was officially presented the Presidential Unit Citation on July 13, 2002, the day before his 80th birthday, for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy.
The entire 96th fighting division was awarded the citation. The honor was given "for displaying such gallantry, determination and Esprit de Corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign (Okinawa from April 1, 1945 to June 30, 1945)."
The degree of heroism required is the same as that which would warrant the award of a Distinguished Service Cross to an individual.
Gary Hall said that both he and his father are very patriotic and love America and the freedoms it stands for.
"America is the greatest nation on earth," said Hall. " When it comes to war, there may have been a few mistakes made, but everybody just does the best they can. We don't always agree 100 percent on the politics of the country, but that's the privilege of being an American."
As for Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County were both he and his father were born and raised, Hall said it's a great place to live and getting better and bigger all the time.
"I never thought I would see a traffic jam on Broadway," said Hall, who remembers the days before the town had traffic lights. "It's changing all the time, but that's good. This is a good town to be apart of. I think everybody needs to come out and have a good time and show their support of the community."