On Monday, the 61st anniversary of D-Day, the 330,000 World War II veterans living in Florida got a long-overdue and well-deserved monument to their service. The granite pillar surrounded by bronze plaques holds special meaning for the vets and their families
Florida's World War II monument stands on the grounds of the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee.
Retired Army Private Willie Williams came up from central Florida to see its unveiling in person. One of the first African-American women to join the army in 1943, she's proud of her service as a hospital cook.
“I felt that if you don't eat, you don't live, so I feel that being a cook is just as important as on the front lines.”
Hundreds of World War II veterans and their loved ones from around the state came to see the monument that's been six years in the making.
Members of the Commemorative Air Force flew in formation overhead. Vets rose patriotically as the army band serenaded members of each branch of the military.
Jeb Bush praised their service and said they continue to set a shining example.
“This is the greatest generation of modern times and the more that you can hold up high the example of humility, determination, and just real courage, the better we'll all be.”
The monument recognizes the nearly quarter of a million Floridians who fought in World War II. Their contributions are honored by plaques from each of Florida's 67 counties leading up to the central pillar.
Forty six hundred Floridians lost their lives serving in World War II. The memorial is intended to make sure they and the sacrifices of those still living are always remembered.
World War II marked the beginning of a new era in Florida. More than 200 military bases and training locations were established around the state. Many who came to support the effort stayed to raise their families, or returned to retire in the Sunshine State.