MARGATE – There is a longstanding tradition in Margate to hold a luncheon to honor veterans on the first Monday before Veterans Day. On Nov. 4, 24 Margate veterans and their spouses attended the annual event, which included a meal cooked up by volunteers and staff at the Martin Bloom Community Pavilion and a visit from a dozen fourth grade students at the William H. Ross Elementary School.
The students, who are members of the “Trailblazers” club where they learn how to be leaders in school and in the community, honored the veterans with poems and songs. Students stood in the buffet line to gather plates of food they served to the veterans and their spouses.
“We are grateful to have the Ross students here not only to honor you but to also hear your stories,” said Carolyn Peterson of the Right at Home homecare organization.
Peterson introduced each veteran who shared their branch of the military and where they served. There was quite an array of experiences shared by the veterans, some of whom served in battle during World War II, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam wars, while others served stateside during peacetime.
One veteran said he was “the last man” at Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Another man is still serving 50 years later as a “grandfather figure” for new recruits at Paris Island. Yet another saw action at the Battle of Normandy during World War II. One Navy man, who served on the Intrepid, said it was his job to pick up Astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space, when his capsule landed in the ocean, and the first two monkeys who ever flew in space.
Another veteran said he was returned home from war after President Harry S. Truman declared that any family who lost a loved one in war would get to see their siblings returned home safely. Another was serving in Japan during the first anniversary of the atomic bomb detonations in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Another Army man said he worked as a programmer on the very first computer ever built in the world, the ENIAC computer, which took up three floors in a building.
“Today, you wear a computer on your wrist,” he told the children.
And lastly, former NJ Sen. Bill Gormley, a former Marine, who attended the luncheon with his wife Ginny, said he was a chief prosecutor in Okinawa.