The Character Counts Meme posts every first and third Tuesday of the month. I’d love to have you join me for spotlighting, celebrating and honoring people of good character, who’ve led exemplary lives and who’ve lived with honor, integrity, dignity and sacrifice, and those who’ve inspired others by overcome great obstacles in their own lives. I believe that when we celebrate and exhort good character traits, we can turn the tide, and see more of them. At least I’d like to try! If you are joining us, please leave your name and link at the Mr. Linky down below and don’t forget to leave a comment! Blessings!
Audie Murphy was a true American hero, serving in the Army during WWII and later became a successful actor. But his life didn’t begin that way. Audie came from a very humble and challenging background. He was born in Texas to poor sharecroppers, Emmet and Josie Murphy, who were of Irish descent. He was the sixth of twelve children, nine of whom survived beyond their eighteenth year.
His father, Emmet, deserted the family in 1936, leaving Josie to try and raise the family alone. Audie dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help support the family. He earned a dollar a day, working for anyone who would hire him to plow or pick cotton. He became highly skilled with a rifle and was able to help feed the family through his hunting successes. When a friend commented on his skill, his response was, “Well, if I don’t hit what I shoot at, my family won’t eat today.” His mother died when he was fifteen years old, and he came into agreement with his oldest sister, Corrine, decided they had no choice but to put the youngest three in an orphanage (he reclaimed them after his service in the war).
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Audie tried to enlist, but was turned away because of his age. He attempted once again when he sixteen, after getting his sister to help adjust his birth date to show that he was eighteen. He first tried to join the Marines and then the paratroopers, but was turned down by both because he was too small. The regular Army accepted him, but wanted to make him a cook or something else non-combatant, but Audie insisted on becoming a combat soldier. He received his training, but still had to fight to get overseas and into battle. His persistence paid off.
Not only did Audie participate in combat, in just twenty-seven months of service he became the most decorated soldier of World War II. In June 1945, one month after Germany’s surrender, he returned home a hero, and was discharged from the Army as a First Lieutenant. He had received the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts. Murphy participated in campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany, as denoted by his European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one silver battle star (denoting five campaigns), four bronze battle stars, plus a bronze arrowhead representing his two amphibious assault landings at Sicily and southern France. During the French Campaign, Murphy was awarded two Presidential Citations, one from the 3rd Infantry Division, and one from the 15th Inf. Regiment during the Holtzwihr action.
In addition to the numerous awards and decorations he received from the U.S. for his service, he also received several from other nations. The French government awarded Murphy its highest award, the Legion of Honor. He also received two Croix de Guerre medals from France and the Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm from Belgium.
Following the war, Audie became an actor, making more than forty movies. He starred in To Hell and Back, which was based on his autobiography, and also in The Red Badge of Courage. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and was plagued by insomnia, depression and nightmares. During the 1960’s he even became addicted to doctor prescribed sleeping pills. When he recognized that he had become addicted to the drug, he locked himself in a motel room where he took himself off the pills, going through withdrawal for a week on his own.
Murphy was an advocate of the needs of America's military veterans. He eventually broke the taboo about publicly discussing war-related mental conditions. In an effort to draw attention to the problems of returning Korean and Vietnam War veterans, Murphy spoke out candidly about his own problems with PTSD, known then and during World War II as “battle fatigue” and also commonly known by the World War I term "shell shock." He called on the United States government to give increased consideration and study to the emotional impact that combat experiences have on veterans, and to extend health care benefits to address PTSD and other mental-health problems suffered by returning war veterans.
Audie Murphy died on May, 28, 1971 during Memorial Day weekend, in a plane crash, at the age of 46. On June 7, 1971, Murphy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, with a full-honors ceremony. A special flagstone walkway was later constructed to accommodate the large number of people who visit to pay their respects. His is the second most-visited gravesite, after that of President John F. Kennedy.
Audie Murphy was a true American hero, who overcame great adversity in his personal life, who believed in the cause of freedom, and who knew that freedom isn’t free, but was worth dying for. Even with all his honors, he remained a humble man, downplaying his own acts, but always praising and honoring his fellow soldiers.
“The true meaning of America, you ask?” Murphy once said. “It’s in a Texas rodeo, in a policeman’s badge, in the sound of laughing children, in a political rally, in a newspaper… In all these things, and many more, you’ll find America. In all these things, you’ll find freedom. And freedom is what America means to the world.”
14 hours ago