Recently one of the funeral directors who works with Martin Oaks had a case in Farmersville, Texas, a tiny Collin County, Texas town with a population around 3,000. When the director and his assistant returned to Martin Oaks Cemetery & Crematory in Lewisville, Texas the assistant noted that the deceased lived near Audie Murphy Blvd. – “Whoever he was.”
Even though Audie Murphy’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery is reported to be the second most visited grave behind that of John F. Kennedy’s, sadly, the memory of this gallant warrior appears to be fading. Given that we are approaching the 4th of July, I thought that it would be a good idea to remind what a real national hero Audie Murphy was. And, on this Independence Day, it is important to remember all of those who laid down their lives so that we could have the freedoms we that we enjoy today.
Growing up just outside of Farmersville, Texas, Audie Murphy certainly did not have the advantages that so many of us have today. He was the son of a sharecropper with ten brothers and sisters – when Audie was 10, his father deserted the family. He had drop out of school to take a job picking cotton for a dollar a day. His mother passed away when he was 16 years old. While his brothers and sisters shipped off to orphanages and relatives, Audie decided to lie about his age and enlist in the service.
Neither the Marines nor the Navy would take him due to height issue, so he settled for the Army. After basic training, Murphy was sent to the 15th regiment in North Africa; eventually he saw his first action in 1943 when the allies invaded Sicily. After a series of battles in various places, it was obvious that he was an outstanding soldier: his exploits were legendary, he was wounded three times, and reportedly led a charge with little or no ammunition.
This sharecropper’s son who dropped out of school to pick cotton ended up becoming the nations most decorated soldier (a total of 33 U.S. military medals including the highest decoration of all, the Medal of Honor).
When he returned from the war, he ended up landing in Hollywood where, essentially playing himself, he made more than 40 films and one television series. Perhaps his most famous film was “To Hell and Back,” which was based on his biography of the same title. Perhaps his best role was in “The Red Badge of Courage,” directed by John Huston. The two worked together again in a 1960 film, “The Unforgiven.” Many of his films were westerns.
For all of these heroics, Audie Murphy eventually paid a steep price. In the parlance of the day, he was shell-shocked – today, this suffering would be called post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. The symptoms destroyed his personal life: it is said that he slept with a loaded gun under his pillow, he had periodic bouts of depression, nightmares, and was addicted to sleeping pills. He also developed a gambling addiction. IRS debts piled up due to unpaid taxes.
In May of 1971, just before his 46th birthday, he died in a private plane crash. There are many memorials dedicated to Murphy: a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a monument at the site of the plane crash, and a 10 foot bronze statue in Greenville, Texas. There is also an Audie Murphy American Cotton Museum in Greenville, Texas and an Audie Murphy VA Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Additionally, there is an annual Audie Murphy Day held in Farmersville, Texas during the summer. This year it took place on Saturday June 17, 2017.
In fact, there is a friendly argument between Greenville and Farmersville about which is his true hometown.
As we celebrate July 4th, it is important to remember that heroes like Audie Murphy have made this all possible. Murphy himself said that the real heroes were the ones who died on the battlefield and did not come home.
Contact Martin Oaks for an immediate response (469)605-7215. Inexpensive, low cost cremation services are available through the funeral directors who work with Martin Oaks in and around the Dallas, Texas area. We are the affordable cremation option. All services must be arranged through the licensed funeral directors who work with Martin Oaks.