Sitting together at a long table in front of more than 50 family members and fellow veterans, eight World War II veterans were recognized and honored in a ceremony Saturday, June 11.
Ed Burns, commander of Jerry W. Dobbins American Legion Post 157, opened the event by announcing that members of the post had voted unanimously to give life memberships in the American Legion to each of the 17 World War II veterans who are members of the post. Eight of those 17 veterans were present for Saturday's ceremony, while a ninth had someone else there to accept certificates on his behalf.
Director of Maine Veteran Services Peter W. Ogden then spoke, and told the audience that more than 112,000 Mainers served in the armed forces during World War II. That number, he said, represents about 10 percent of the state's population at that time.
"You are the Greatest Generation," Ogden told the World War II veterans, using the term first coined by television journalist Tom Brokaw. Ogden said the young men and women who have served in recent years and who still serve today are the next Greatest Generation, noting that all of them volunteered to serve.
Ogden told the World War II vets that were it not for their service, "I might be doing this in Japanese or German." Ogden, who said he was honored to be present for the ceremony, then read the text of the certificate that was presented to each of the veterans:
"In recognition of your honorable service during World War II in the Armed Forces of our country. We, the Citizens of the State of Maine, express our sincere appreciation of your sacrifice, courage, and willingness to serve our great state and nation. We are proud of you and thank you for your contribution to the defense of Freedom."
The certificates bear the signatures of Governor Paul LePage and Major General John "Bill" Libby, Maine's adjutant general.
Ogden also recognized five women who are veterans and members of Post 157, presenting them with State coins.