St. Bernard celebrates Veterans Day

Left to right are Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper, Bill Ellis, SRO Don Slocumb, George Welch, Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry, John Gissell; retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Less Fuller and Fr. Joel Martin, OSB, St. Bernard Prep headmaster. (St. Bernard)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Students at Saint Bernard Preparatory School were honored to be joined by community veterans and a retired U.S. Army brigadier general to celebrate Veterans Day Wednesday.

The Cullman Police Department Honor Guard presented the flags, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem, led by the Saint Bernard Preparatory School choir.

Police Chief Kenny Culpepper and Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry joined with veterans from the school family to hear a wonderful address given by U.S. Army retired Brigadier General Les Fuller, a native of Covington, Georgia. 

Following graduation from Middle Tennessee State University in May 1973, Fuller was commissioned a U.S. Army second lieutenant.  Serving his country for 32 years, the general served as a platoon leader and company commander in conventional infantry units. However, most of his service was with the Army Special Forces, more commonly known as the Green Berets. He commanded both a battalion and group in Special Forces. As brigadier general, he was the commander of Special Operations Command Europe and later served as the commanding general of Fort Jackson, South Carolina prior to going to Afghanistan with NATO.

He served in Panama, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, Africa, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Balkans and Baltic countries before his retirement in February 2005.

Fuller complimented students on their vocal and musical performances and shared with the community the true definition of a veteran.  He quoted Isaiah 6:8, recounting the prophet’s call from God, who said, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us.”  Immediately Isaiah responded, “Here am I, send me.” 

The general gave a broad sweep U.S. history lesson on the timelines of each war and how soldiers bravely stood guard and fought to protect their country.  Asking the audience to stand and raise their right hand to recite the oath of an American soldier, he reminded everyone to be their best, and to always have a soldier’s heart.

Fr. Joel Martin, SBP headmaster, read a poem entitled “It is the Soldier,” authored by World War II Army veteran Charles M. Province.

It is the Soldier 

It is the Soldier, not the minister

Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter

Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet

Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer

Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer

Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician

Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,

Who serves beneath the flag,

And whose coffin is draped by the flag,

Who allows the protester to burn the flag.


Then a prayer was offered by Fr. Joel

Following a solo performance of “Taps” played by St. Bernard senior student David De Jesus, the assembly was dismissed.