Help us send off, welcome veterans

Published 12:05 am Thursday, November 13, 2014

I sat next to a World War II Navy veteran the other day. He didn’t say much, but I knew what he had been through — hot, sticky jungles, bullets whizzing, buddies dropping and him surviving.

Another veteran sat next to me. He sur- vived D-Day, crawling on his belly in the sand, grappling his way up the cliffs pray- ing he wouldn’t be shot. Bullets whizzing, buddies dropping and him surviving.

The world was at the brink of peril then. These men and women saved us.

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Now, it’s our turn to tell them how much we care.

The Miss-Lou Honor Ride sponsored by Home With Heroes Foundation will depart at 7 a.m. Saturday for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Eleven World War II veterans will be on board the coach. Eleven of the “Greatest Generation” will be on board. I will be with them, and proud to sit among them.

Now, it’s your turn to tell them how much we care.

We need a send-off among our Miss-Lou folks who are patriotic, and who want to show these heroes you care.

Yes, 7 a.m. on a Saturday is early. But re- member, for years, these veterans sweated and crawled in the dirt, mud and jungles of the Pacific. Others, tromped through ice and snow in the battlefields of Europe. Sometimes they didn’t bathe for weeks, sometimes they ate lousy rations, sometimes they didn’t get a letter from home for weeks or months, sometimes they saw their buddies die, sometimes they felt as though they would never return home alive. Yet, they pressed on, and on and on. For whom? For us.

So, 7 a.m. isn’t so early after all.

Now, they will return around 7 p.m. We need a wel- come home.

It might sound incredible, but tens of thousands of World War II veterans were discharged only to be sent home and back to their families and work. No parades, no bands, no gifts, no outpouring of community thanks.

Well, friends, we can make good on that, even 60 years later. Be there as they return. Yes, it will be late, but late is better than never.

Keep in contact with Mark LaFrancis, Home With Heroes President, about our re- turn. His cell is 601-597-4268.

Bring your flags, wave them proudly, and let these World War II veterans know they are not forgotten.

Donnie Verucchi is a Vietnam veteran and former Commander of the Mississippi Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also is a board member of Home With Heroes Foundation Inc. of the Miss-Lou.