Cheers to the five area World War II veterans honored at a luncheon at the Washington American Legion Post 218 Monday.
More cheers to the organizers of the event — Rosalie McGaugh and the Daughters of the American Revolution and Legion members, as well as the other supporters, such as 13-year-old Will Riegel, who turned out to honor his great-grandpa, WWII veteran and Purple Heart recipient Othmar “Ott” Jasper.
Riegel said it was a privilege to talk to his great-grandpa about his WWII service, and he wants to pass that knowledge on. Smart kid.
The knowledge, the example, the sacrifice, the valor is worth remembering and preserving. It absolutely should be passed on. So kudos to all of those engaged in that mission.
Every day, memories of WWII — its sights and sounds, its terrors and triumphs — disappear, as the WWII museum reminds us. Yielding to the unalterable process of aging, the men and women who fought and won that conflict are now in their 90s and 100s.
They are dying quickly. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, of the 16 million Americans who served during the war, about 325,000 — or less than 2 percent — were alive in 2020, and around 300 are passing away every day. Soon, the voices of the Greatest Generation will be forever silent.
It’s important to hear their stories and pass them on.
In addition to Jasper, who served in the Army, Fred Girvin, of the Navy; Oscar Rode, of the Army; Emil Poertner, of the Army Air Corps; and Don Northington, of the Navy, were also recognized at Monday’s luncheon.
We owe the men and women of our Greatest Generation our deepest respect and sincere gratitude for their sacrifices, lifetime burdens and internal struggles. Each answered the call of duty. They served their country. Not all saw combat, but all did their part. They overcame adversity and the pain of war for love of country.
They are quiet heroes emblematic of the qualities that make this nation so strong. As more WWII veterans pass each day, time is running out on our chance to hear the war stories of these patriotic Americans.
As a nation and as a community, we must remember these veterans who inspired so many of us to serve. May we never lose our profound respect and gratitude for those who sacrificed so others may enjoy freedom and liberty.
This is our call to action. Let’s pass it on.