Crate Nicholson is an emotional man. He’s almost 80, frail, and just moved into a trailer on his daughter’s land. It was either that or a nursing home.

He followed the first push on D-Day, spent 36 days in a Normady hospital with a piece of shrapnel in his back, went back to the front, and watched a mortar rip a hole right through his left arm. He left everything he owned on the battlefield and went home to marry his childhood neighbor. She was the only girl who wrote back when he fired off war-story letters from the front.

He had two kids, built two churches, worked on a chicken farm for 35 cents a day, and spent a half-century wanting something more than a scar and occasional tear to show for his patrotism.

Yesterday, the U.S. Government made good. In the mail, two purple hearts, a few bronze stars, and everything else he earned. He cried. He’s still crying. His daughter asked Mom where Dad was.

“Back in the back looking at those medals again.”

He’s now got something to show for it…

And I thought about it as I watched him walk off today. Crate probably doesn’t realize…he didn’t really need a symbol of his patriotism.

He’s a living symbol of everything the good part of America represents.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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