William “Doc” Long turned 89 years old in May and he still works at the truck company he and his brother founded in 1945 with his brother, James.
You can see Doc across the Triad giving speeches that are dictated to his daughter, Patty Long Hill. One such speech was given on Saturday, December 14th, 2013 at the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Patty sent Jeri Rowe from News and Record two of his more recent speeches. One of those speeches was given at the Rotary Youth Leadership ceremony back in July. He called it “Price of Freedom.”
Here, is that very speech.
After being on the front line for 100 straight days, I was severely wounded at about
3 o’clock on the afternoon of November 13, 1944.
As I said earlier, the winter of 1944 was the coldest winter the French had experienced in 50 years. Light snow had fallen during the night before. I hope that you never experience having to sleep on the ground and awaken with a blanket of snow covering you.
I, along with some of my buddies, was caught out between the lines. As I lay there, I was wounded a second time. I lay there for 18 hours during that cold night, listening to the moans and groans from my fellowman.
Some crying, some even dying, some begging for a drink of water and I was unable to help.
I realized my fate and that my life was barely hanging in a balance by a mighty small thread.
I did a lot of praying during the night. There again, by the Grace of God I survived.
My wounds included a severed artery and nerves in my right shoulder. My arm was paralyzed and with every beat of my heart the blood flowed readily, yet I lay there for 18 hours.
The next morning around 9 o’clock without any assistance, with the huge exception of God’s Grace, I was picked up by litter-bearers and was placed on top of a tank, while it was being fired upon by the enemy.
I know how you and any member in the medical society would respond … that is not humanly possible.
It is only by the Grace of God that it could happen and I am living proof of this fact.
When I arrived at the aid station, my blood soaked clothes and shoes were cut off me (seven layers, to be exact) and any personal belongings were saved, that being my wallet and my little Bible; you see we had to travel light, our lives depended upon it.
After a few days, now coming out from under the drugs, I saw the little Bible and it too had taken a hit, by a piece of shrapnel.
I dare say you could take an ice pick, and with all your might have pierced that book, in its entirety.
I have with me today, that Bible and the piece of shrapnel that went through the entire book and was caught in the outer binding of it.
That piece of steel would surely have pierced my heart if not my entire body. If anyone would like to see this miracle of life, I have it and other items on display for your review.
Over the past 68 years, one question has always lingered in my mind … why was my life spared when other quality brave men around me were dying?
I spent 25 long months in an Army hospital recuperating. So you see, by the Grace of God, I am what I am, including my possessions and even to my life.
We are reminded by the tragic events of 911, 01 and wars, such as World War II, that freedom is not free, nor is it a birth right, but won by human sacrifice, suffering and pain.
War is dirty, War is ugly. Where there is war … there is fighting, bloodshed and dying. But it is fatal for a nation to go to war without the will to win! We have not fought a war in our nation since WWII with a will to win.
Even at the high cost, it’s not as costly as losing the war. I am convinced, that you have never really lived, until you have almost died.
Anyone who has fought, sacrificed and suffered, for the cause of freedom for all, knows a flavor of life that the protected shall never know.
This is what love of God, my church, our Nation, my fellowman and to each of you, means to me.