Greatest Generation Awaits Memorial Dedication - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/26/04

Greatest Generation Awaits Memorial Dedication

Thousands of World War Two veterans are looking forward to a special weekend in Washington.

They'll gather in the nation's capital for the dedication of a "National World War Two Memorial ". The monument remembers the 400 thousand Americans who died in that war, along with millions more who served their country both in uniform and on the home front.

About 50 veterans boarded a bus at the Armed Forces Retirement Home Wednesday morning. They're excited about Saturday's dedication of the World War Two Memorial; a permanent tribute many say is long overdue.

Many proudly wore hats marking tours of duty from decades ago. The white haired warriors are happy the nation remembers. Even if the tribute might be a little late.

"I'm sorry they haven't built it a lot earlier, so the rest of the gentlemen, all our dead guys, could have seen it," said Ernie Sylvester.

Joe Salerno agreed with his buddy.

"I'm looking forward to seeing it. I'm just sorry another ten thousand, ten million men can't see it. They're all dead now," he sighed.

The monument occupies prominent property on the national mall. It's positioned between the Washington monument and Lincoln Memorial. Many say it should have happened sooner.

"Didn't really have anyone pushing for it you know. I think maybe Tom Brokaw's book, the greatest generation, and things like this, they started thinking about it, 'hey, why not a monument for those people'," said veteran Henry Pike.

John Morash wishes his four brothers were still alive to attend the dedication. All five served and survived the war, which left lasting impressions.

"If they were still alive, they'd never buy anything made by the Japanese, you damn right. And if you were a family member and you came home in a Toyota, you don't come in the house," he explained.

These aging veterans from the greatest generation will join thousands more on the mall in Washington. They've lived long enough to hear a grateful America offer her thanks.

"And this includes everyone. It's not just strictly for the military. It sort of commemorates Rosie the riveter and those other people who contributed to World War Two. So, it's great," said Pike.

By Steve Phillips

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