A day to honor WWII Veterans

Dear Editor:

It’s a “survivors” kinda Friday…every once in a while you get to be a part of something that is good and decent and honorable for its own sake…you’re not raising money for this project or that…you’re not trying to get people to join your group, convert or be born again…you’re not asking people to vote for your candidate or sign your petition…you are just doing something cool because it is just that — cool!!…

Last Friday, July 20, was one of those opportunities for me…at the American Legion Post 558 (Clare-Farwell)we held “A Day to Honor WWII Veterans”…if you had the chance to attend and didn’t, then you are living beneath your privilege!…

16 million men & women served directly in the US Military during World War II (Spanky, that would be “the Big War“)…experts estimate that we are now losing about 1,000 of those veterans every day…so we thought it was time to stop and say to those who hadn’t left yet — ” Before you go, we just want to say THANKS!”…we had 23 veterans from our area attend; the youngsters in the group were 85 and the oldest was Harold Notter who is 94…

I have written to you about Harold in the past; he is the sweetest, most positive person I can think of right now…Harold is, according to his son-in-law Joe Hart (pronounced as one word –JOEHART), the kind of guy who mows his lawn in a suit & tie…Harold is the farthest on the right in the front row…we had one Pearl Harbor survivor (4th from the right front row) and at least three purple heart recipients…at least one representative of each branch of the service was in attendance…but guess what?  we had only one Marine!!…and that Marine is the pretty lady sitting in the front row; her name is Grace…

During the War she served in the Pentagon and was in charge of making all the dog tags…how cool is that?…many of these folks are still self sufficient but many had to be brought in by their family…many of the vets commented that they thought their efforts had been long forgotten…we have not forgotten!!…it was so much fun as we passed the microphone around the table and let each veteran introduce themselves however they chose to do so, tell a quick tidbit and receive applause…

One salty sailor (who shall not be identified) took the opportunity to tell what was a very risque joke from the WWII era…the room fell silent but most of us were bursting with joy that he got to share humor he had carried within himself for over 6 decades…

The veterans were appropriately welcomed by our Post Commander William Zastrow and given a commemorative medal by 22 year Navy veteran Jack Marks…every single WWII vet there had something to share, flashed a broad smile and was like a child at a birthday party…by the way, we DID serve them cake and ice cream (thanks to the Ladies Auxiliary)…

For me, the most memorable moment of the day was when this assemblage of heroes struggled to their aging feet (some with canes, some with walkers, all with some difficulty)and led the group in our “Pledge of Allegiance” (yes, they included ‘one nation UNDER GOD’ in their version)…

I was stopped two days later by Bob the Pearl Harbor survivor who lives in the same assisted living center as my father(dad is the one on the scooter left front); Bob actually remembered being there…he pumped my hand and told me how much that day had meant to him…that’s it!!…

I said earlier that you did these things for no ulterior motive; that’s mostly true but to see that you had a part in putting joy in an old guy’s heart is a pretty good return on your effort…to all of our WWII Heroes who did what they did without boast or brag, I just want to say THANKS…THANKS for open speech and quiet streets…THANKS for worship in our own way and in the manner we choose to pray…THANKS for homes and jobs and baseball games…THANKS for doing the job you knew was right…THANKS for paying the price that Freedom costs…

BEFORE YOU GO, we all just want to say THANKS – YOU SAVED THE WORLD AND YOU WILL NOT BE SOON FORGOTTEN!!…the ducks on the pond make no ripple in your presence…and Mother Parker offers a fresh pot of decaf with that cake & ice cream.

PS — I know I said 23 attended and there are only 19 in the photo; getting these feisty oldsters together in one place is like trying to herd cats.  I am not sure where the others were when we snapped the picture.

PPS- I don’t care if you call this corny…in fact, you know what, you probably could use a little old fashioned corniness in your daily routine :)

PPPS – these vets are the reason we do things like our “Wreaths Across America” project!  If you want to be a part of something cool for cool’s sake, you may sponsor a vet by sending a donation (no upper limit):  SAL Post 558, PO Box 361, Farwell, MI 48622.  I solemnly promise we will not squander your patriotic contribution.

PPPPS- This was not written as a solicitation; it just occurred to me at the last minute that maybe some of you would like to be a part of saying THANKS to these folks before they go!

PPPPPS – Bob the Pearl Harbor survivor has been dying for a scotch & water; they don’t serve those at Prestige Place.  I am happy to report that his thirst was quenched in the social quarters of Post 558!!

The Kelster