November 11 is day to honor veterans like Maudie A. Miller
As the controversy simmers over standing or kneeling for the national anthem, this column, first published several years ago, is being reprinted as a tribute to all veterans.
Pvt. Maudie A. Miller wrote a lot of letters from his part of the war, the First World War. His father, Eli Miller, counted 45 in all, plus one postcard. The card announced only that he had arrived safely overseas.
“Our regiment is lucky so far,” he wrote in a letter dated Sunday, Oct. 13, 1918. “We have lost but very few men. ...”
Maudie was writing from somewhere in France, where he was assigned to Battery C, 320th Field Artillery of the United States Army. He was updating his family on what he had seen: “The Allies sure have been doing some good work the last few weeks,” he wrote. “Guess you have seen in the paper what they have done, and still have the Germans on the run. …”
But he longed to be home in Lula, Georgia, helping his family at harvest time: “Guess you all are busy gathering your crops. Would like to be there to help you all. Hope you will make a good crop.”
Maudie’s time in the Army began April 17, 1918, when he reported to Camp Gordon, Georgia. He stayed there 13 days and then transferred to Camp Mills, New York. A few days later, he shipped overseas to prepare for what became known as The Great War, because no one could imagine a war being greater.
The private received training on a machine gun and reported for duty near the front lines in France.
Maudie assured his family time and again that he was just fine. “Tell Momma not to worry about me,” he wrote in the Oct. 13 letter. “I will not hurt myself unless I do accidentally. I am not in very much danger. I am so far back of the front lines.”
He also assured everyone he had kept the faith.
“I have read my Testament through twice since I have been over here,” he said. “I haven’t been very uneasy, yet I feel like the Lord will protect me if it is his will.”
On Nov. 11, 1918 – at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – hostilities on the Western Front ceased.
But Maudie Miller never got the news. He was severely wounded and died 22 days before Armistice Day, the day the war ended. Saturday, Nov, 11, is Veterans Day, a day to honor and remember America’s men and women of the armed forces. People like Maudie.
About two years and nine months after he died, the remains of Maudie Miller, my late father-in-law’s oldest brother, arrived home for burial.
His New Testament was among his belongings.
Maudie had marked one verse in the little book. It was the 13th verse of the 15th chapter of St. John. It was the same verse the Rev. P.M. Webb read at Maudie’s funeral on July 29, 1921:
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”