MEMPHIS, TN - Honoring our nation's men and women who fought and sacrificed for our freedom. This Veterans Day we say thank you for their service. Ceremonies took place across the Mid-South Thursday to pay tribute to military members past and present.
The largest group of World War II veterans in the Mid-South came together at Kirby Pines Retirement Center. These heroes, part of "the greatest generation," may be dwindling in numbers, but their fight is as strong as ever. There were also veterans from other wars, including Korea and Vietnam. What they've been through is incredible.
“A veteran is a person who has signed a blank check over to the United States of America in the amount up to, and sometimes including, their lives, for the defense of our country, our flag and peace around the world,” said speaker and Master Sergeant Jim Brown.
Hundreds of people were there to honor those like Army Corporal W.T. Hardwick, who went to war on D-Day.
“That was 6th of June, 1944, and I was captured the 10th of June, 5 days later,” said Hardwick. “And I was a Prisoner of War for 10 months.”
Held captive by enemy forces, it was...
“Bad, we were in a box car for 23 days and nights without getting out,” he said. “We lost about a third of our body weight the first month we were prisoners.”
Hardwick eventually came home. But others didn't.
“I feel lucky. I feel lucky, and I hate that they are still missing. And I hate that they never did get to come home,” said Hardwick.
George King fought in Korea with the Marines.
“In my Easy Company, First Marines, 49 of us went uphill, 749 in North Korea, only nine of us came back,” said King. “So I owe a great deal of gratitude to those young men.”
With music, speeches and songs, we say thanks.
Thanks to Army Nurse Virginia Granger, who served on a hospital ship for two years during World War II.
“I am glad that I was able to serve,” she said. “I enjoyed it. We had some hard times, and we had some fun times, so it was great.”
145 veterans live in the Kirby Pines Retirement Community.
“People are beginning to realize that we veterans of World War II are fast fading away,” said Granger. “And that it's time to let them know that they're appreciated, and I feel appreciated.”
Service members old and young, we salute you.
“We went over as 17-year-old young men, we came back as 21-year-old grown men,” said King. “Because we had served according to our oath for the democracy we have here in this country.”
There are an estimated 57,000 veterans who have never been accounted for. Today, their colleagues and the community paid tribute to them as well.