North Georgia Veterans President Pat Bodelson welcomes those who came to the Chapel to attend the Memorial Day Service.
Decorated veteran Tommy Clack delivers inspiring speech to full house at Memorial Day service
Tommy Clack, decorated Vietnam veteran and dynamic speaker shared his message of God, self, family, community and country to a packed audience at the Memorial Day service in the Big Canoe Chapel, sponsored by North Georgia Veterans.
Clack was pronounced dead after traumatic injuries from a rocket-propelled grenade. His miracle recovery and lifetime of service are inspirational as is his speeches. Since 1970, he has been recognized over 200 times at the city, county, state and national level for his leadership and accomplishments.
North Georgia Veterans President Pat Bodelson welcomed the attendees as the Big Canoe Chapel chimes tolled 11 times, and commended them for their willingness to spend an hour on Memorial Day remembering those Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Dick Scharf introduced Clack after recounting those who have lost their lives throughout America’s history.
“God has been so good to me my entire life,” Clack told the audience. ”While I was pronounced dead and laid out in front of the morgue, it was very obvious that God had something else for me to do. I am blessed that Dr. Julian Meggs walked out of the 12th Vac and does not know why he walked over to that line and lifted my poncho (we had no body bags back then) and here I am. God directed him to that bag and that’s why I am here.”
Clack, an eighth generation Army soldier, explained the bond that those who serve together have and how they support each other.
“When somebody calls one of us, not just at July 4th, veterans Day or Memorial Day but 365 days a year, if you and I have the opportunity to be of assistance we need to take that opportunity to solve the issue at hand.”
Clack has spent 47 years working to better the VA and the treatment of veterans.
“When I share with audiences like you and even with elected officials, I share to remember one thing about service to this country, he said. “ If this country has got enough money to fight a war, it better find enough money to take care of the warrior and his family,” he said to loud applause.
Clack said that that he has found that schools today don’t teach what we have been through.
“It is important that we share with future generations what happened in our time frame,” he said.
He also heralded those in the current generation who are willing to serve their country.
“We always say things about the younger generation,” Clack said. “But there is always a unique breed of American citizens that are willing to step up and put their lives on the line to serve in harm’s way. We are truly blessed.”
Clack shared a story of a young person at Georgia State University who pointed at Clack as what is wrong with our country.
Asked why he thought that, the student replied that because Clack is someone who believes that we still are the best country on the face of the earth and that we are good for the rest of the world and do a lot of good things around the world, “and we don’t, the student said. ”We mess everything up that we get involved in. Look at you. You are the result of misguided causes.”
Clack responded, “With all due respect sir, I would go back in a heartbeat to kick more ‘gluteus maximus’ just to ensure that you can stand here and voice your opinion, that I don’t agree with. There are a lot of us who would die to give you the right to disagree with me.”
The student “turned around and walked off.”
“We have to be very vocal and stand up for what is right,” Clack said. “They want us to be intimidated and not stand up to them. And while I am a visual picture of what war looks like, there are so many stories out there. All of you who have served have a unique story to share.
Clack told the group that it’s important to attend the holiday events that commend those who serve our country and to take every opportunity to share our story and our country’s history.
“I also would like to point out to you, as I do at every opportunity to put my mouth in gear, when you see something like me, think about the positive aspects of what you are looking at,” Clack said. “It was 49 years ago that I stopped wearing shoes. Think about it. Forty-nine years of saving money not having to buy shoes,” he said to the laughter of the crowd.
Clack ended his talk with a couple of his favorite quotes.
“Jesus summed up and predicted his death in John 15:13 when he said ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’,” he said. “And that is what our military does for us.”
“Man’s greatest reward for his toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it,” Clack said quoting from John Ruskin’s essay. “I share with you everything that you and I do allows us to be a better person than before. I honestly tell people I am a better person for having experienced combat and understanding what life and death is all about. God is always out there and doesn’t put on me anything that I can’t handle or deal with.”
Tommy Clack delivers a positive message to a packed house.
Memorial Day service attendees speak with Clack after the service.
The Chapel was packed for the Memorial Day service.