By Ronda Wertman
BURLINGTON – It was an afternoon of faith, family and a love of God and country as the Burlington community came out to honor the six Caldwell brothers for their service.
Like many families, entering the military was a tradition passed down as the six sons of Richard and Helen Caldwell each served their country.
With the Caldwell home place just off Patterson Creek Road, the sign unveiled commemorates this dedicated family and the road they travelled daily.
The sign near Burlington Elementary School was dedicated to James, Richard, John, William, Doug and Tom in a service led by Donna Burdock.
Pastor Tom Caldwell Jr. of the First Baptist Church in Burlington opened in prayer and sharing a poem by Rudyard Kipling.
He explained how man turns to God in times of danger and turns to the military.
He gave thanks for his father and his uncles, "These godly men who answered the call for their county and they also answered the call to their God."
Brothers John, William and Tom led the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the singing of the National Anthem.
Burdock didn’t need to explain to those gathered how important the flag was as generations of the Caldwell family and friends gathered, but as a reminder she noted that the red is for valor, the white for purity and the blue for perseverance.
"The flag should be treated with honor and respect," she said.
The Caldwell brothers served from 1946 to 1968, participating in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.
"All veterans deserve our gratitude," said Burdock of their sacrifice "leaving their home and their family to fight for this country and our freedom."
Honoring the Caldwell family was extra special for Burdock, whose brother Thomas Dunithan was killed while serving in the Army with Tom Caldwell. That is a special bond and Burdock notes that she now considers Tom a brother.
Local delegates John Paul Hott, Gary Howell and Ruth Rowan were on hand to celebrate the family and their dedicated service.
"It’s an honor and a privilege to be here today to recognize the Caldwell brothers and their service in time of need," said Hott as he presented a resolution from the House of Delegates and a Legislative citation for each brother and their family.
The brothers also had two sisters, Joan Caldwell Brown and Helen (Jean) Caldwell Brown, and their descendants were also on hand as generations of the family gathered together.
Bob Brown, the son of Joan, shared with those gathered the words to Taps, noting that while the solemn tune is familiar that he like many had never heard the lyrics.
Hott reviewed the service of each of the brothers, starting with the late James and Richard Caldwell.
James served in the Army with the Company A 21st Infantry as private first class and received the WWII Victory Medal Army of Occupation Japan.
Richard C. Caldwell served during the Korean War in the US Navy as an engineman third class and second-class diver.
Unable to attend the event was Douglas, who served in US Navy earning several commendations for his three tours in Vietnam serving with the fighter squadron 51.
Surrounded by their families and friends, John, William and Tom were on hand for the ceremony as Hott read their service records.
John served in the Army at Fort Sill Oklahoma completing training at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama in ballistic missiles. He received awards for expert rifle.
William served in US Army including six months and 11 days in Vietnam with the First Infantry Division. He began his career serving at Fort Riley Kansas. He was discharged as a private first class (E-3) as was recognized as an expert M14 Rifle and with the Vietnam Service Medal.
Thomas served in the US Army with the 198th Infantry BDE in Vietnam at the rank of SGT E-5. Some of his commendations included the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Service Stars, Valorous Unit Award, and Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.
Reading of each son’s distinguished service, Hott praised their contributions to their country, state and community.
"I just want to thank the Lord for making it possible what we went through," said Tom Caldwell.
In closing his closing prayer, Tom Caldwell Jr. asked God’s protection "over each and every person who travels this road."