MEMORIAL DAY AND THE MONROE DOCTOR’S WHO SERVED THEIR COUNTRY

 

As we approach another Memorial Day weekend and pause to remember all the soldiers who gave their lives for the safety of our country, and especially those from Monroe and Walton County, I wanted to remember along with those gallant men three Monroe doctors who served with great valor and honor when it came to treating and aiding those thousands of soldiers who were shot or maimed during World War II. Those heroic men were Dr.’s Stewart, Nunnally and Huie.

One of the most sacred and honored creeds of all time for those in the medical profession is the Hippocratic Oath.

This oath is historically taken by physicians and is one of the most widely known of Greek medical texts. It requires new physicians to swear, by a number of healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards. This oath is the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world, establishing several principles of medical ethics which remains of paramount significance today. Swearing a modified form of the oath remains today a rite of passage for medical graduates in many countries.

The term “Hippocratic Oath” refers back to Hipprocrates who is known as the father of medicine in Western Culture. The original oath was written in Ionic Greek between the fifth and third centuries BC. Over the centuries it has been modified for clarity and translated into many different languages.

Dr. Philip R. Stewart left Monroe in the late summer of 1942 and upon entering the service as a Captain, he first went to the Army Medical School at Washington and then to Camp Barkley, Texas and then to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for a three month course.

During his time in Minnesota he took a course with Sister Kenny, the famous Australian nurse, who developed a new treatment for infantile paralysis which had attracted national attention.

He then went to the Mediterranean theater of war where he was assigned a permanent post on the hospital ship, The Shamrock, and spent six months evacuating the wounded. In an interview with the Walton Tribune back in March of 1944, he described the Shamrock as a floating hospital, fully staffed with competent doctors and nurses and the most modern equipment of the time.

During his time on the ship, he visited Italy and Africa and viewed many beautiful scenes along with many sordid and unpleasant ones.

When Dr. Stewart returned to Monroe and back to private practice in 1945, he related to both the Monroe Kiwanis Club and the Monroe Rotary Club some of the experiences he witnessed during his time at war. He mentioned to the assembled groups that his vessel served not only in the treating and evacuating of American troops but also aided English, Italian, French and other soldiers. He told the groups that while he witnessed some terribly gruesome and horrific moments during the war, he was honored beyond measure to have been in a position where he was able to minister to the sick and wounded along with treating those who did not survive the utmost in tender and loving treatment as their bodies were being prepared to return home to their families.

Monroe’s other two beloved doctors, Dr. Lynn Huie and Dr. Harry B. Nunnally, served equally with distinction and honor during their service to their country.

Dr. Huie was called for Army service on October 5th 1942 shortly after Dr. Stewart left several days prior. Dr. Huie once recalled that the folks in the Walton County area were a bit dismayed and astounded that two of its best physicians were called away so quickly and left them wondering just how the county was going to survive without sufficient medical professionals! Dr. Huie was the youngest of the Monroe physicians and one of the few surgeons in the area.

With the departure of these two beloved doctors in such a short span of time, some Monroe folks took matters into their own hands, trying to see if something could be done to keep Dr. Huie in his hometown. Several organizations banded together to voice their displeasure with the Procurement Board in Atlanta and officials in Washington to see if something could be done to ease the medical crisis that was about to occur in our county.

Walton Triune Editor & Publisher, Ernest Camp, of whom it has been said had the ear of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, sent his friend a wire on September 22, 1943 which read in part:

“As an old friend who fully understands your interest in humanity and who has followed your consistent course in its behalf, I am writing to protest the removal from civilian practice to the Army, Dr. Lynn M. Huie of this city, the one remaining active surgeon in Monroe with Dr. Philip R. Stewart entering the service only a few days ago. As the situation stands, there is going to be actual suffering and death in this county this fall and winter for lack of good medical attention. Will deeply appreciate your personal intercession. Signed Ernest Camp.”

It seemed that while President Roosevelt and Editor Camp were good friends, President Roosevelt had more to worry about than a small Southern town who was short on doctors. There was no mention if the president ever replied to Mr. Camp’s wire.

After serving over three and a half years with the Army Medical Corps, all of which was served in various areas of the United States, Dr. Huie returned home in January, 1946 with much celebration and happiness over his return to his family and his medical patients in Walton County.

In November, 1945, Monroe celebrated the return of Captain Harry B. Nunnally, after serving long tenures in the Army Medical Corps in U. S. Camps and overseas.

Captain Nunnally, whose father was another of Monroe’s distinguished and beloved doctors, entered service in October of 1942 and went overseas in 1943 to Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. He was in combat zones in Luxon and other Philippines areas along with being in the invasion of the Admiralty Islands.

He returned to the states on November 5th, later reporting to Fort McPherson and then coming home on terminal leave until February 27th when he was placed on the inactive list.

Once he was fully discharged he resumed his post-graduate studies in medicine. Dr. Nunnally graduated from Emory Medical College in June 1941 and served his internship at the Knickerbocker Hospital in New York.

After completing his courses Dr. Nunnally returned to Monroe to follow in the footsteps of his father in his service to his patients in Monroe and Walton County.

Dr. Nunnally’s younger brother, George Brown Nunnally, was killed while serving with the U. S. Rangers as Company Commander in Italy on January 30, 1944.

I once heard Dr. Stewart remark on his service during the war that some of the things he saw and experienced would forever haunt him and cause him to look anew on those of his patients who came to him for treatment, giving them the best he was physically able to do in their healing.

During the observance of this day, we see many poems and other messages of appreciation of those who lost their lives in service. Three poems that have always spoken very deeply to me were four lines from A. E. Housman’s “More Poems,” XXXVI, which reads:

“Here dead we lie because we did not choose

To live and shame the land from which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;

But young men think it is, and we were young.”

The other poem which I find most meaningful is Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier”. Rupert Brooke died during WWI:

“If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is for ever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;

Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends and gentleness,

In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.”

And of course there is the poem we all share in and recite; the poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a physician with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, who in April 1915 following the Second Battle of Ypres, wrote, “In Flanders Fields the poppies grow, between the crosses, row on row.”

When Walton County native and educator, Moina Michael, read Colonel McCrae’s poem, she was so moved by his verse, she immediately wrote a response to his poem and was responsible for the creation of the Poppy Flower boutonniere to be worn on Memorial Day to benefit disabled veterans as well as a memorial for those whose who gave their lives and rest in Flanders Fields.

As an elderly veteran, well over one hundred years old once remarked, “As long as we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, they will never be forgotten.”

And it is this wish I bestow upon you on this Memorial Day.