Celebrating a four-star general

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I was privileged this past Saturday to attend the celebration of life of the late four star general, William James Livsey.

It was held at the Mowell Funeral Home chapel and the two hundred on hand pretty much filled it up.

The congregants by and large could be placed in several groups: men who had served with him and/or fought with him; Friends Are Forever, those who graduated with Livsey from North Georgia College in 1952; four different American Legion VFW Veterans posts; and folks like me who had known him locally for years and always enjoyed his company.

The general and I also shared a special occasion in 1996. It was only a few years after he officially retired from 35 years in military service. We both had been chosen to carry the Olympic Torch in Fayetteville.

On July 17, 1996, I brought my Olympic torch in to Heritage Park at the town square in Fayetteville and after a brief stop, I then lit the torch of the next runner, which was General Livsey.

He was still physically fit and being an Army man, he began to run to where the next Olympic torch bearer would be standing. The weather had been in the high 90s, there were literally thousands of Fayette Countians at the square, and they definitely didn’t want to see the Olympic torch go flying by. The State Patrol made him stop and walk to the next person holding a torch, and I will see that sight until the end of my days.

While I have always felt humble in General Livsey’s presence, to sit in the same room with the men who had served under and with him in war and in peace time, was an experience never again to be equaled.

This celebration of his life was the only one held and drew several distinguished speakers. The general served just over four years in Korea, both in war and in peace time. He is so well thought of there, Major General Kyoung Soo Shin, Republic of Korea Army, who is the Defense Atache for the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington, D. C. came to speak on its behalf.

Several popular Army songs were played as you came in – you know, if you were alive during World War II you remembered all the words – especially the one that ends, “old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”

Indeed