Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - 28

My GEORGIA

By Bill Verner

A tribute to America's
greatest generation
Henry Scott Verner,
the author's father,
visits the grave of
his brother Lemuel
Howlett Verner in
France in 1989.

Lemuel Howle

T

tt Verner

ears stream down my cheeks when
I watch the closing scene of the movie
"Saving Private Ryan." A silver-haired James
Ryan salutes the white cross marking the grave of the
Army Ranger captain who gave his life while leading
a small band of soldiers to find the young private in
Normandy in 1944 so that he could return home.
Seventy-five years ago, on June 6, 1944, more
than 150,000 young soldiers-half of them Americans-bravely led the largest amphibious invasion in history. The U.S. National D-Day Memorial
Foundation has verified 2,499
American fatalities and 1,914
from other Allied nations on
D-Day.
In the weeks after D-Day,
a staggering number of Allied
troops landed on the Normandy beaches to liberate Nazi-occupied France. By mid-July, more than
1 million Allied soldiers were involved in breaking through and overwhelming the entrenched
Nazi forces. This turning point in World War II in
the summer of 1944 would result in the ultimate
sacrifice for more than 15,000 American soldiers and

28

Georgia Magazine

June 2019

their families. Two cemeteries near the D-Day beaches honor
America's fallen in that region of France alone during World
War II: Colleville-sur-Mer, where there are 9,380 graves and the
names of 1,557 who are missing; and Saint-James, where there
are 4,405 graves and the names of 500 missing soldiers.
One of those buried in Saint-James is my uncle, Pfc. Lemuel
Howlett Verner, Company K, 121st Infantry Regiment. I'm
blessed to have visited the sacred ground where he is buried. It
is likely he landed on Gold Beach on July 4. We
have 28 letters he sent to his family in Watkinsville. The next-to-last letter was mailed from
his station in Northern Ireland in late June. The
last, mailed from "somewhere in France" in
July, chillingly describes his experience in battle
against "the Jerries." Uncle Lemuel was killed in
street-to-street fighting in the port city of Brest
in northwest France. He was 27 years old.
Uncle Lemuel had two older brothers,
Edwin and Alvin, who served in World War II
and later returned home. He also had a younger
brother: my father, Henry Scott Verner. My father,
having been processed at Atlanta's Fort McPherson, was preparing to go to Fort Benning for
paratrooper training near the time of Lemuel's death. But after
several families lost all of their sons in combat, the United States
established the Sole Survivor Policy, which was the basis for the
plot of "Saving Private Ryan." With his three brothers fighting in
the war, my father was allowed to remain home on the family
dairy and serve instead in Oconee County's Home Guard.
Like many other American families, my grandparents,
Henry Lee and May McDonald Verner, had multiple children
serving overseas, and not all of them returned home. "Saving
Private Ryan" resonates at a deeply personal level and makes
me grateful for so many things: for bravery and heroism in the
face of unfathomable horror; for God's blessing on America and
her allies; and for America's greatest generation.
Thank you, Uncle Lemuel and all who made the ultimate
sacrifice for our freedom. May you rest in peace. God bless
America.
Bill Verner is the senior vice president of Tucker-based
Georgia Electric Membership Corp.
To submit a My Georgia story, send the essay (no more than 500 words)
and 300-dpi digital photos by email to mygeorgia@georgiaemc.com or
by mail to the address listed on page 6. A self-addressed, stamped envelope must be included for photos to be returned. Published essays pay
$100. Georgia Magazine reserves the right to edit submitted pieces.



Georgia Magazine - June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - June 2019

Contents
Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - 4
Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - 5
Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - 6
Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - 7
Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - 8
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Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - June 2019 - Cover4
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