A few weeks ago I got to experience a great afternoon in downtown Salem, where my hometown put up a new memorial to honor our World War II veterans from the area. I myself, like many others, probably don’t give thanks frequently enough to those that fight for our country, so I appreciate all memorials that act as a permanent reminder to always be grateful.
The weather was VERY warm, but that did not stop the crowds. There was standing room only. People sought out the shaded areas and brought fans, cold water and umbrellas to keep them cool. Many of the crowd were seniors from ‘the greatest generation.’ They came out in full force to honor and remember the World War II Salem area veterans. I made sure to arrive early, so that I didn’t miss a moment of the dedication. To start off the event, a short speech was delivered about the memorial itself, those who created it, and the reason for its placement. A World War II veteran living in Bend, Oregon delivered a speech reminiscing about the people that he had served with during the war. Governor Kitzhaber and other military personal said a few words as well.
The crowd was littered with men and women from the military donning caps, medals, or jackets declaring what part of the service they were from. The most impressive thing to me was the salutes. The majority of the crowd may have been over 80 and using walkers, canes, and needing assist to stand, (some could not stand), but when it came time to salute, those salutes were sharp and steady. It gave me chills to see these veterans perform a sincere dedicated salute regardless of their physical abilities. The look in their eyes was complete love for their country, with full understanding of what it means to fight for one’s country and if necessary, they would do it again.
We, at Premier Care Homes, are lucky enough to have World War II veterans living in our homes. One of our veterans, Don Marlarkey was able to attend the dedication today with his family and friends at his side. The dedication brought many emotions to the surface for everyone, but the most prominent feeling was of pride and gratitude.
At the end of the dedication, everybody was in high spirits and very appreciative of the efforts to create a lifetime memorial to the World War II veterans in the Salem area. Most importantly, the day, and the memorial act as a good reminder to myself and to others to always be grateful towards those who put their own lives in danger to protect our freedom.