Leslie: Rufus Garnmeister's Letter to the Editor is worth reprinting


To the Editor:

The father of an old friend of mine recently passed away. His name was Rufus Garnmeister.

The following letter was on a display table at his funeral. The letter was written by Rufus to the Star Herald in the late ’70s.

Many people at the funeral thought it would be good to see it reprinted.

Have a blessed Memorial Day. I miss you, Rufus, and I’m proud to have known you.

Jeane (Dreesen) Leslie Luverne


To the Editor:

This is an open letter to the young men of our nation.

Since President Carter mentioned revival of the draft in his State of the Union message, I have heard many young men say, “I will go to Canada before I will serve in the Armed Forces.”

Well, young men, before you put on your track shoes and hit the trail north, please listen to what one veteran has to say about it.

First of all, I hate war probably more than you do.

I have seen the ruins and the rubble, the starving and the homeless, mothers who resort to prostitution to feed their children.

I have seen the bloodshed and smelled the stench of the dead.

I stood dumbfounded gazing at the horrors of Buchenwald.

I have heard the screams of men as they were suddenly hit by enemy fire and listened to their dying groans as they lay mortally wounded.

Even though I came back physically unharmed, the horrible memories will haunt me the rest of my life.

But, you might ask, would I do it again?

The answer is yes.

You see, I have this feeling inside that I had a part in giving the postwar nation the best standard of living the world has ever known.

I have helped pay the dues my family has owed this great country for three generations for taking my hungry, poverty-stricken grandparents under her wing.

I had a part in preserving the freedom that enables you to say, “I would rather go to Canada than be drafted.”

I am proud to be able to tell my grandchildren that I had a part in it.

I remember General George S. Patton once telling us during the seemingly endless push to defeat Hitler, “I know you hate me now, but the day will come when you won’t be ashamed to tell your children and grandchildren that you fought under Old Blood and Guts.”

As for myself, I would rather it be told by someone that I gave my life for their freedom than to have to tell them myself that I avoided the draft.

If you still feel you would rather go to Canada, then by all means go. Many have died to give you that privilege.

If I were leading a squad of men in battle, I would not want you in my squad.

I would want men who, regardless of how scared they may be, will do what they know has to be done. These are the kind of men you can depend on when each man’s life may be in the hands of the other.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Now, you make up your own mind.

Rufus Garnmeister

Sherman, S.D.

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