JBLM servicemembers honor veterans
November 15, 2011
"Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Willie Dixon," announced the singer on the stage. His son belted out an old Willie Dixon tune from his saxophone as the audience clapped along during a ceremony at the American Lake Veteran Affairs Medical Center this Veteran's Day. The smiles in the crowd widened with each note that shot out of the horn.
Servicemembers and their families of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community gathered on Veteran's Day to spend time with heroes of past generations. They shared stories together, learned from each other, and just spent time getting to know one another.
"I came out to relive our past," said Sgt. 1st Class Walter Twitty, an information systems operator from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 702nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. "To honor the soldiers who actually came before us; I think it makes them feel good to know they're not forgotten."
Twitty, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native, enjoyed the company of Sgt. 1st. Class Sidney Mayers, who retired from the Army in 1975 after serving for 32 years.
Mayers, a Buffalo Soldier of the 92nd Infantry Division who fought in Italy during World War II and served in Vietnam. On this day, he shared memories about his military career and shook the hands of servicemembers.
"It made me feel good to see them dressed up," said Mayers, who also donned his Class A uniform with his Combat Infantry Badge shining. "I know what they've done to get their rank."
William Richardson, a Vietnam veteran who was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army in 1967, shared stories and offered advice to those who serve.
"When you get out, forget the bad parts and remember the good parts," said Richardson.
"I have always respected our elders," Twitty said. "Ever since I was a kid, I used to come out and talk to older people, listen to what they say, and learn something."
The room was full of American veterans, who told war stories that offered a lifetime of knowledge. Generations mixed together to swap stories of present and past.
Sgt. Donna Little, an air traffic controller, HHC, 702nd BSB, 4-2, became emotional during the celebration.
"I teared up when I first saw him; it was pretty tough at first, said Little after speaking with a veteran who reminded her of her grandfather. He had retired from the military as a sergeant first class.
It is a true testament to the selflessness of all those who volunteered their time to make veterans feel appreciated on their day.
"Thank you for serving our country," Little said as a message to all those who served before her and those who serve with her.