Hundreds gathered together to honor men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces during a Veterans Day ceremony Saturday at the Conway Municipal Airport.
One of the last intact World War 2 B-17s served as the backdrop for the celebration.
While every serviceman and woman was acknowledged, a group of nearly 1o World War II veterans in attendance were specially recognized.
“I walk around [the] B-17 and you just have to swell with pride and you have to realize … I don’t know if I could have done what these guys [did],” retired Gen. Dwight Balch said.
Balch said the B-17s didn’t have air superiority, dominance of protection.
“I want to tell you these men sitting out here on this front row, I appreciate what you’ve done because today we have freedom in this country because of men like you who went before us to pay the sacrifice that we all [have] today,” he said.
Balch said in today’s military, only one percent of the population in the United States is able to serve, and of that one percent, most of them have generations of prior family members who served as well.
“They’re fighting for freedom that we so richly enjoy each and every day,” he said.
But, as he thinks of the few World War II veterans left and what all of them mean to our country, he can’t help but think of the many sacrifices they made and the ones made by today’s military members — all willing to lay down their lives.
“I just want to thank you [all] for being here and showing your love to these World War II veterans and the veterans that are here,” he said.
Balch said the best thing someone can say to a veteran is thank you for their service.
“The veteran just wants to know that America still cares,” he said. “I want to thank each and every veteran here today for what you’ve done for our country and what you’re continuing to do for our country.”