American Legion Post 70 to conduct Veteran’s Day program

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, November 8, 2012

American Legion Post 70 and its Auxiliary will conduct a Veterans Day program and recognition service at 11 a.m. Monday at Bicentennial Park in Troy. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend.

Post Commander Bob McLendon said because Veterans Day, November 11, falls on Sunday this year, the annual recognition service will be held on Monday.

“Traditionally, the Veterans Day program is held at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, but that would be at church time and that’s not a good time to have a public service,” McLendon said. “We have a very good program planned with patriotic music by Phi Mu Alpha Sonfonina, the music fraternity from Troy University. Lt Col James Lawrence USAF (Ret) will be our guest speaker. He was a special operations pilot and is an excellent speaker.”

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Lawrence said that he has great respect and admiration for all veterans but believes, too, that World War II involved the “greatest generation.”

“They defeated the greatest threat to democracy the world had ever seen,” Lawrence said. “More than 400,000 of our military men and women lost their lives in conflict. Not only did the military men and women go off to war in distant areas, but those back home contributed on a massive scale.”

Lawrence said that women learned to fly aircraft and served as ferry crews to deliver aircraft from stateside locations to overseas airbases. Others went to work as welders, riveters, or in assembly plants due to the shortage of able-bodied men.

“Our entire nation went on rationing of food stuffs and durable goods,” he said. “Sugar, cooking oils, rubber, gasoline and other petroleum products were rationed so those on the front lines could be given priority for their needs to effectively face and defeat our enemies.”

After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, young men off the farms and out of stores and factories flooded the recruiting stations to sign up for military duty.

“Even Hollywood played a big part as those such as Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart and many others signed up for duty,” Lawrence said. “Baseball players such as Ted Williams, maybe the greatest hitter ever, and ‘Bullet Bob’ Feller, one of the all-time great pitchers, joined in the military effort. Our country was united in a single tremendous effort to win World War II, with virtually ever member of society pitching in and doing their part. They truly are deserving of the title ‘Our Greatest Generation.’”

Lawrence recently visited with Richard Cole, 97, who was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot on a B-25 bomber when they launched off the U.S. Navy Carrier Hornet on a historic mission to bomb Tokyo, Japan on April 18, 1942.

“The attack was carried out after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and was designed to boost American spirits, as well as let the Japanese government know that the United States had the ability to attack them on their own soil,” Lawrence said.

“As a result, the Japanese military kept substantial forces near their bases, cities and towns that would otherwise have been used to expand their war in the Pacific.”

McLendon said Lawrence will talk about his own military experiences and perhaps about the visits that he has had with many veterans of other wars.