UPPER GWYNEDD — More than 20 living World War II veterans were recognized in a World War II Veterans Appreciation Ceremony on Thursday, June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
The ceremony, which was at Brittany Pointe Estates retirement community in Lansdale, honored all residents who served during WWII in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
Each veteran received a handmade and personalized miniature flag mount with the United States flag and the flag from his or her respective branch of service.
Among those honored was a married couple who both served during the war.
Many family members and other loved ones of Brittany Pointe Estates residents filled the auditorium for the ceremony.
“I’m happy we’re honoring the veterans. Seven members of my family were/are in the Marines,” Josie Erb said.
Bob Berger, chairman of the Brittany Pointe Estates Veteran Affairs Committee, opened the ceremony.
“This afternoon’s ceremony was created to pay homage to our WWII veterans,” Berger said.
Berger emphasized how appreciative and thankful he, the committee and the community are for what these men and women have done for the United States.
“Today we all wish to show our appreciation to all the men and women who served 24/7 regardless of the theater. To all of you here who gave so much, we thank and God bless you,” Berger said.
The ceremony featured videos and photographs to honor those who served. This included those out at war as well as the support personnel.
Fran Glica recited a poem titled, “D-Day, A Remembrance,” in which she described how people viewed those who served during D-Day.
“Brave men breached the shore. Fear conquered by courage and honor and more,” Glica said.
Major Gen. William F. Burns, who served in the army after World War II, recounted being in school at the time of the war.
“I was 11 years old. Our pastor of our parish had us pray for the success, not the termination of war, of the D-Day landings in Normandy,” Burns said.
Burns discussed concerns of people today being ignorant of the problems and conflicts the country and armed forces face.
“Those of us who remember those days remember that we were constantly aware that we were participating, in one way or another, [in] a great war,” Burns said.
The ceremony ended with a prayer from the Rev. George Gunn, who is a veteran. Before the prayer, Gunn discussed faith in the U.S. military.
“A uniqueness about the U.S. military is that all faiths are represented. In all service we serve with friends of all different traditions. We serve as one,” Gunn said.
Col. Paul Toolan is one of the residents and veterans who was honored in the ceremony.
Toolan served in the military and in reserve for a combined 32 years. He was honored to be part of this ceremony.
“I felt I was among friends and brothers,” Toolan said.
Toolan did not participate in the D-Day landings, but he was in the Pacific at the time.
Toolan served in World War II after going to college at the University of Scranton. He went to law school after the war.
“I got out of law school and then they called me back for the Korean War,” Toolan said.
Toolan’s daughter was at the ceremony honoring him and his fellow World War II veterans.
“I am very happy and thankful that my daughter is with me today. Not many people get that privilege,” Toolan said.