GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - 101-year-old World War II veteran Marion Ritchie has seen a lot in her life. One of her favorite sights is seeing children scurry around the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport.
“All those little vermin,” Ritchie said with a mighty laugh.
The school children came to the home Friday to celebrate Veterans Day. They sang to the residents and put a few smiles on some faces in the crowd.
If you ask a few of the retired veterans how the Veterans Day holiday makes them feel, their answers would be simple.
"It makes you feel good," said Wolf Kiessling, a retired Navy veteran.
“I think it’s a great idea. They should have it more often. Twice a year,” Ritchie said.
Even though Veterans Day is about them, the veterans said seeing so many people coming to visit them, especially young children, is heartwarming.
"Being a former teacher, it's overwhelming," said Dan Ellis, an Army veteran. "I think it’s a great wonderful thing that the citizens pour out like they have today just to come out and see all the activities that we do."
The veterans also like using the day as a chance to return the kindness people show them.
“People always thank us for service, and we would like to think of the people for what they do,” Ellis said.
Passing through the rooms of the home, history is written on the walls of the building, but the stories about that history can only come to life when the people who lived through those dates get the chance to share it with people on days like Veterans Day.
"You have to make it so children want to hear it," Ritchie said.
Ritchie has a story worth hearing. She is the fourth of five generations of people who served in the American military from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War.
“That’s a pretty good record,” Ritchie said, once again with a thunderous chuckle.