A group of local World War II veterans were recognized with a special luncheon hosted by the Woman’s Club of Panama City Sunday afternoon. Each of the 35 veterans in attendance had a story to tell about their experience so many years ago.
The Woman’s Club of Panama City worked with WWII veteran Jim Giles to find each of the veterans and ensure they received their invitation, preparing them to receive an honor that many say is long overdue.
"These gentlemen gave bravely of themselves and their lives and they are our oldest living heroes,” said Woman’s Club of Panama City President Jan Gainer.
Veterans in attendance received certificates of appreciation from Bay County commissioners and the Woman’s Club for their dedication to protecting the rights and liberties that Americans hold so dear, but for many the importance of Veteran’s Day isn’t so much being recognized for what they achieved, but a time to remember those who made sacrifices along the way.
"This day rouses thoughts of those same veterans that we honor that Memorial Day,” said Chief Master Sergeant Raymond Devite. “Those who made the ultimate sacrifice therefore are absent from us today."
" When you're in the military and you go through certain times, you never forget the people you were associated with. One of my best friends was L.T. Barrington and our ship was sunk on Aug 9, 1942 and you just don't forget,” said World War II Navy Veteran, Jim Giles. “I sit at night and I visualize those people. L.T., French, House...just like they were here today and you never forget them"
"The biggest thing we really should remember is the people who have given the sacrifice, World War II on, and suffered great disabilities,” said World War II Airforce Veteran, Robert Gregor. “They're really forgotten in many cases, it's a tragedy at recognition."
Monday morning is the Bay County Veteran's Day parade. The ceremony will begin at 9:30 am in downtown Panama City and end at the Panama City Marina.