BATH, Maine – While it was not the “war to end all wars” for which civilization yearned, WWI triggered a grave sense of respect for the more than six-million souls who lost their lives in defense of the allied powers. On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, the allied nations signed an armistice with Germany, effectively ending hostilities between the nations and creating what would later become known as Veterans Day.
Just days prior to the 11th anniversary of the death of their namesake, Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, Sailors of the future PCU Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) visited Plant Memorial Home to celebrate Veterans Day alongside a few of their country’s great heroes. Sharing stories of service and brotherhood, the Rafael Peralta Sailors met and interacted with men and women who embody the sacrifice Veterans Day was created to recognize.
“It’s almost surreal being able to sit down and have a conversation with members of the greatest generation men who we grow up reading about and seeing in all the movies,,” said Lt. Adam Levine, systems test officer on Rafael Peralta. “We are so thankful to be able to meet them.”
Plant Memorial Home is home to many veterans, including members of the Navy, Army Air Corps, Coast Guard, as well as the Army’s Counter-Intelligence Corps. Harold Grundy, a veteran of the Coast Guard, resupplied the Navy’s carriers and destroyers during such battles as Leyte Gulf. Harold held a black bag close as he spoke with Rafael Peralta Sailors. Out Harold proudly pulled two military portraits in a side-by-side frame. One picture was of Harold, then a young man eager to serve his country; on the other side of the frame was Harold’s equally zealous son, a Vietnam veteran who tragically died in a car accident shortly after his return home from the war.
Another WWII veteran living at the home is Fred Kelly, an Army Air Corps pilot who survived along with six of his crew after being shot down over France in March 1944.
Fred made a point to explain that veterans of the “forgotten” Korean War, along with those who were largely ostracized upon their return home from Vietnam, deserved a lion’s share of the recognition his generation so humbly enjoys.
As dictated by Congress in 1926, Veterans Day, should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding. Coming together to pay homage to one another, these men and women discovered fellowship through the long tradition of sacrifice which bonds them.