Friday, November 12, 2004
Just a handful of people turned out yesterday (Thursday) under overcast skies to honor America's military veterans at a special Veteran's Day program held at Sunnyside's Jerry Taylor Veterans Memorial Plaza.
The overcast skies reminded the Master of Ceremony Walter George of bad weather endured by him and fellow soldiers serving on European battlefields more than 60 years ago.
"It was on a day like this in December 1944, that we were getting our butts kicked at the Battle of the Bugle," recalled George, who is now the commander of Sunnyside American Legion Post # 73.
George said heavy, overcast skies kept the ground soldiers from getting necessary air support during the battle that raged between the Nazis and the Allied troops from Dec. 16 1944 through Jan. 28, 1945. The Battle of the Bulge was the largest land battle of World War II, and resulted in the deaths of 81,000 Americans. George served with the famed U.S. Army's Seventh Armored Division, during the battle that is considered by many historians as the turning point in World War II in the European Theater.
"Remembering days like those remind me to be grateful for the freedom we have to stand here today," he told the small group of people who braved the chilly morning air to attend yesterday's Veteran's Day ceremony.
Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside, who was the keynote speaker for the short program, said being asked to speak at the event was humbling.
"It serves to remind us that we can only remain free as long as we remain the home of the brave," he said.
"It is the bravery of our dedicated soldiers and veterans that has made us free and helps to keep us free. We support them," he added.
The veterans and their supporters were invited to attend the American Legion's annual Veteran's Day dinner, which was enjoyed Thursday evening at the Sunnyside VFW post home.