Heroes Around Us: Wyatt Posey ‘42
A member of UGA’s Greatest Generation, the late Wyatt Posey, (’42 BSA), was recognized in his church a few years ago in a unique way. Rev. Charles Jones, former pastor of Mars Hill Baptist Church near Athens, used Posey as an “object” in his children’s sermon in a special “God and Country” emphasis on a Sunday near July 4th.
Rev. Jones, who now works as historian and writer for the Georgia Baptist Convention, also writes a weekly column for the Athens Banner- Herald in Athens. Because it was near Veterans Day, Jones shared the experience in a recent column entitled “There are heroes all around us.”
He wrote: I called Wyatt Posey and asked if he had any of his World War II medals that I could use that Sunday. He informed me that after their house had burned several years before he had not replaced them.
He said, "As long as I don’t have to say anything.”
That Sunday morning, we had him carry the flag at the beginning of the service and post the colors. When it came time for the children’s sermon, he came and sat on the altar steps beside me. The children gathered around us on the steps and floor.
I began by asking, ‘do any of you know what a GI is?'
None of the children knew, so I threw the question to the rest of the congregation.
“Government Issue” someone shouted back.
I explained that it was a nickname for the soldiers in World War II.
Then I started telling them about the GIs. After a few moments, I told them about the Battle of the Bulge.
I said’ it was the coldest winter in over 50 years. Some men were freezing to death. They were all cold, tired and hungry. Many had been surrounded by the German army in the city of Bastogne. The German general wrote demanding their surrender, and the American commander replied ‘Nuts’.
“It was really bad’, I told them¸ ’It didn’t look good for the GIs of Bastogne.’
Then I paused and with my left index finger pointed across my body to the tall, lanky gentleman in his 70s sitting stoically beside me and whispered, ‘And you know what? He was there.’
Jaws dropped and their eyes became the size of saucers. I told the children, ‘there are heroes all around us.’
I had pretty well anticipated the reaction of the children. What caught me off guard was the reaction of the rest of the congregation.
Many of them had known Wyatt for many years. They knew he played football for the University of Georgia on the 1942 Championship team. They knew he had been a football coach at Georgia under Wally Butts. They knew his wife, four kids and grandchildren, but most of them had no idea that in the harsh winter of 1944. Wyatt was a lieutenant commanding a tank in the Belgium Forrest in the Battle of the Bulge.
Their response was an outpouring of love and appreciation. It was a instantaneous and spontaneous standing ovation, and I might add there were few dry eyes in the house.
The point I was trying to make is that heroes all around us.
Take some time today not only to thank a vet, but better still, do something for one. Go to a nursing home, the staff will point them out. Take a veteran to lunch. Let’s let them know we appreciate their service and what they have done.
We honor God when we honor those who serve.
Veterans, thank you! You are the heroes around us.
(Editor’s Note: Wyatt Posey passed away November 8, 2005.)