2011-06-23 / Viewpoint

The VIEW from here

In the company of heroes
Gary Gould — Managing Editor

There are many great Americans who have served and continue to serve this country in many ways. People from all walks of life, all different colors, creed and age have done great things for this country and deserve recognition for their contributions.

But there is one segment of our society who made possibly the most significant contribution in the past century — perhaps in this nation’s 235-year history.

Veterans of World War II are a strong, proud group. They fought for this country against the forces of Germany and Japan and in many cases they made the ultimate sacrifice. When it was over they came home and returned to their lives here with little fanfare over what they had done. They were reluctant heroes. Ask them about what they did and they will likely tell you they were just doing their jobs, their duty. But we truly owe them not only our lives, but our way of life.

I had the opportunity last weekend to join a group of 37 aging World War II veterans from Genesee County on a one-day trip to Washington, D.C., to visit “their” monument — the World War II Memorial. For me it was more than an opportunity, it was an honor and a privilege to be able to join some of the few who remain from what many refer to as America’s Greatest Generation.

At an average age of 87, these men came together June 18 for what I suppose you could call their last hoorah, a Pride and Honor Flight from Michigan to

Washington, D.C. It was amazing to see how these men were received at every stop along the way to our destination.

Cheers, applause and people offering their personal thanks for what these men did.

I was thanked by one of the men I was entrusted to care for on this trip for helping him out that day. After spending the day pushing him around in his wheelchair, helping him up and down and on and off planes and buses he acted as if I deserved some sort of praise. But as I told him, I was honored to be there. And it was a privilege to be able to help him after all he had done for me.

Had we not won the war, it is likely I would not be here today, nor would my family and children.

My own father, drafted in 1945, would have been one of the men sent to invade Japan if the war had not ended when it did.

The efforts of these men and the sacrifices of those who died fighting will never be forgotten and I hope future generations will remember what they did for all of us.

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