Old Cars Bridge Generation Gap Between Old & Young Soldiers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/05/04

Old Cars Bridge Generation Gap Between Old & Young Soldiers

Soldiers of different generations are getting a better understanding of one another thanks to Cruisin' the Coast. At this year's Veterans Cruise at the V.A. Hospitals in Gulfport and Biloxi, the people defending America's freedom now are spending time getting to know the ones who defended America decades ago.

Rows of colorful and shiny classic cars intrigued both the young marine and the old soldier. As Justin Wilhelmsen led 78-year-old James Ishee through the sights of Cruisin' the Coast, the years between them melted away.

"It's something that young guys can appreciate," said Wilhelmsen. "Some of these muscle cars out here and some of these hot rods. For some of the older gentlemen these are the cars that they drove when they were teenagers."

The bond between the men runs deeper than old cars. Wilhelmsen is on active duty with the Marines. Sixty years ago Ishee was on duty in France and Germany.

"They fought in World War II and we're in war now fighting the war on terrorism," said Wilhemsen. "It's our struggle, so I think we have a lot in common."

Several National Guardsmen who will be headed to Iraq next month stopped by the antique car show. They got a close look at a jeep that soldiers from another era drove in Vietnam.

"You learn about how technology has changed over the years and how much better we have it versus how the older troops had it," said guardsman Karl Kruger.

The admiration between the older and younger generation rolls both ways. Lamar Rowland served in the National Guard in the 1950s.

"We love every one of them. We tell them how much we appreciate them fighting, and without guys like that willing to go we wouldn't have freedom."

The Veterans Cruise started three years ago as a way to salute the men and woman who've served in our country's military.

by Danielle Thomas

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