Today Cathy, Hannah and I visited the grave of Furman Smith, the first Medal of Honor recipient (U.S. military's highest decoration) from the state of South Carolina.
Smith, a 19-year-old farm boy from Six Mile, was in Lanuvio, Italy with Company L, 135th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division in a mission to liberate Rome, when his unit came under heavy Nazi fire, wounding his commander and another soldier.
Instead of retreating with the rest of the company, Furman Smith stayed with his fallen comrades in an attempt to protect them. Smith fought valiantly but eventually lost his life after being swarmed by a force of 80 German soldiers.
Today, his name graces a highway about a mile from our home, and his body lies at rest in the Pleasant Hill cemetery between his parents and his younger brother, Mit, who died the following year at the tender age of 17.
Researching Furman's story today, I discovered a sister born earlier died of the plague in 1918. It it is sad to imagine how the parents, Charles and Oley (Merck) Smith, were able to cope with such devastating loss.