Monday, May 30, 2016

Billy Hill Badassery Award 5 - Billy T. Smith

On this Memorial Day weekend of 2016, Billy Hill extends a thanks to all those who have fallen to protect a nation that so many, externally and internally, have tried to destroy.  The soldiers that left behind the comfort of their homes, the hugs of their children and spouses, the smell of bacon cooking in the morning, running water and a soft bed, entered into extreme circumstances, some of which every next breath they took was a gift.  But today is a day to recognize those that did not come home, but rather those that gave their all so that all of us in this country can maintain the freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And for the most part, as those soldiers lay on the ground breathing their last breath, and those that were not even aware of the approaching end, they were not thinking of the color of our skin, the religious beliefs we embrace, the morality of the people back home, the lack of appreciation that so many would show, etc.  They were fighting for our nation as a whole and for each of us as equals.

And I know that while today we honor the fallen and we have Veterans day to honor the living, many people don't understand that there is more to death than just breathing your final breath.  You see, many soldiers died in battle but yet, did not physically stay behind.  Young innocent men and women died to their innocence and came home different people.  Yes, the kids ran out on the tarmac to hug their returning dad or mom but, it was not the same person that they had hugged goodbye.  You cannot go through the hell of war without dying in one way or another.

And so, without distracting our honor for those that have fallen, we can also honor the "falling".

So, as I sit here this morning while Billy T. Smith is in a hospital bed in Tennessee fighting for his life, yet once again, I take a moment to issue him a bad-ass award.  And although just like all of us he has  his shortcomings, he nonetheless left this country as a young innocent man with a wife and three little children, and returned home a year later but yet, really he did not.  He would soon find that the Agent Orange that was showered upon him in Vietnam would begin to deteriorate his nervous system, robbing him of physical capabilities far too soon for his age.  And also he returned with a soul filled with memories of countless soldiers that laid with their heads in his lap as he comforted them with prayer and encouragement as they drifted off to join the ranks of the "fallen".

Billy T. Smith was an Army Chaplain and his fellow soldiers described him as a foxhole chaplain.  He refused to stay behind at camp in the comfort and safety of his tent and chapel, but rather hauled a communion set all over Vietnam to meet with the soldiers on the battle field lines, to bring them words of comfort and encouragement, to bring a little bit of home to them.  As a recipient of two purple hearts, it was clear that he was dedicated to his mission.  Below is a picture of Col. Chaplain Billy T. Smith baptizing soldiers in the South China Sea during the Vietnam War.  He is a tough man, not only surviving Vietnam, but also a quadruple bypass and struggling with the loss of feeling in his extremities.  And today, he once again is soldiering up to push back death and say "not me, not today, not this time".

The words of the song "The Reverend Mr. Black" always brings tears to my eyes"

He rode easy on the saddle, he was tall and lean
First thought nothing but a streak of mean
Could make a man look so down right strong
But one look in his eyes, you'd know'd you was wrong
He carried a Bible and a canvas sack
The folks just called him, the Reverence Mr. Black.
He was poor as a beggar but he rode like a king
Sometimes in the evening I could hear him sing:
"you gotta walk, that lonesome valley, you got to walk, it by yourself
nobody else, is gonna walk if for you, you gotta walk, it by yourself"

Well if every I thought that man in black
Had a yellow streak up and down his back
I save the notion for the day
When a lumber jack came in and it wasn't to pray
Cause he kicked open the meeting house doors
And he cussed everybody up and down the floor
And then when things got quiet in the place
He walked up and cussed in the preachers face
And he hit that reverend like the kick of a mule
And from my way of thinking it took a darn fool
To turn the other cheek to that lumber jack
But that's what he did, the reverend Mr. Black
And he stood like a rock, a man among men
And he let that lumber jack hit him again
And then with a voice just a quiet as can be
He cut him down like a big oak tree when he said:
"you gotta walk, that lonesome valley, you got to walk, it by yourself
nobody else, is gonna walk if for you, you gotta walk, it by yourself"

Well I followed him that day and I don't regret it
And I hope I'll always be a credit
To his memory, for I want you all to understand
The Reverend Mr. Black was my old man.

Billy Hill here, I like it neat