Honoring the Greatest Generation
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Dr. Charles Moore, after being recognized Saturday by a crowd of applauders for his service in the Second World War.
“I had no idea it would be this special.”
Dozens of veterans of the World War II from Oktibbeha County received cheers as former Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck called out their names and local Boy Scouts handed them steel medallions of honor, illustrating the famous photograph of the flag riasing during the battle of Iwo Jima.
The U.S. soldiers, many who were 18 when they lived in foxholes in German forests or flew B-24s over Europe, sat in rows decorated with patriotic bows inside the crowded ballroom of Colvard Student Union on the Mississippi State University campus, where some of them trained to become pilots and military heroes.
“We deeply appreciate your sacrifice,” said U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, a veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve whose legislative record includes the National Missile Defense Act of 1999.
Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum members Joan Wilson and Bill Poe, who organized Saturday’s celebration, said they simply wanted to show appreciation to World War II veterans such as Roscoe Anderson, who will reach 100 years of age in November and was able to attend the commemoration.
Oktibbeha County has a comparatively large number of veterans who fought in the war and also of and men and women who supported them from home by holding scrap iron and paper drives and saving their money to buy war bonds.
“Mississippi was on the forefront of those who answered the call when the war began,” MSU President Mark Keenum said.
Well-versed in MSU’s military-related history, Dr. Roy Ruby, who has served a long tenure as one of MSU’s top administrators, delivered a detailed account of what took place during the war, which recorded a total of seven deaths of soldiers from Oktibbeha County, though Ruby suspects there were more.
“Part of the greatest generation lived right here,” Ruby said.
Saturday’s event was the local commemoration of the 65th Anniversary of the end of World War II for the U.S., which deployed 16 million people in service and lost 400,000 of them.
“Today we celebrate you, the true patriots of America,” Tuck said as the large crowd in the Union ballroom stood up and applauded, some with tears in their eyes, all happy to honor the veterans.