America secures a place in time for WWII veterans; New York City tunes in to monumental event;

2 Jun 2004 | Cpl. Clinton Firstbrook

Nearly 59 years after the Second World War, the National World War II Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. Saturday. For the veterans who couldn’t make it to Washington, a ceremony was held in Manhattan’s Bryant Park to make sure everyone had an opportunity to see the unveiling.

Before the official dedication ceremony from Washington, attendees were taken back into the wartime era with live music and videos that told the story of the “Greatest Generation.”
“It feels nice to be recognized for what we did,” said Gloria Hess, Marine Corps World War II veteran. “I would’ve liked to attend the ceremony in Washington, but I couldn’t make it. Someday I’ll travel down and see it first hand.”

From the opening remarks, speakers talked about the accomplishments and the sacrifices this generation undertook to secure the freedom of others.

“The men and women of World War II were not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity, but in single obedience to duty as they understood it,” said Army Major Gen Richard Colt, dedication speaker. “They suffered, bared all, and died. To all veterans out there, and to all of you currently wearing the uniform, thank you for your service and sacrifice.”

Aside from the World War II veterans at the ceremony, many service members from the past and present attended to show their appreciation and honor the warriors of the past. 

“I was in the Marine Corps from 1981 to 1984, so I have a huge affinity for the services,” said Clarice Joynes, Mayor’s Office of Veteran’s Affairs director. “I am also a daughter of a World War II veteran so today’s event is very near and dear to my heart. In New York City alone we have more than 90,000 World War II veterans in the five boroughs.” 

Following the conclusion of the Bryant Park events, President Bush received the newly constructed memorial on behalf of the nation.  The official dedication was broadcasted live from Washington D.C. and watched by the gathering in Bryant Park.

No matter how long the wall stands, the war will always live on in the hearts and minds of the veterans who served and their loved ones who waited anxiously for their return.

“I came here to honor my uncle who was killed in 1944 and the rest of my family who participated and was part of the greatest generation,” said Marine Corps veteran Vincent Gagliardi. “These guys are the ones who saved the world. God bless them all.”

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