At a luncheon paying tribute to veterans residing at Legacy at Bear Creek Assisted Living and Memory Care, 94-year-old Bob Byington said his Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross made him no more a hero than the other veterans seated at his table for lunch.
“It was an honor to serve,” said Byington, who served in the Air Force during World War II.
Seated with fellow veterans at a table adorned by an American flag, Byington recalled how he was wounded in the right arm when his B-24 bomber was struck by gunfire.
“There were 600 holes in that B-24,” the first lieutenant said of the German attack.
Never miss a local story.
He recalled that story and others at his table offered their own recollections Thursday afternoon as the residents were served their daily lunch.
This day was like most others, except that the veterans who live there were honored for their service many decades ago.
It was a nice tribute, considering Veteran’s Day — the official United States holiday that honors people who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces — isn’t until Nov. 11.
Mayor Mark Mathews, who was born on Nov. 11, said in a brief speech that he knew it wasn’t Veteran’s Day. But, he said people should honor veterans every day rather than on the one day a year that’s been set aside for them.
“I was so honored when they invited me to this luncheon, to speak to this group,” Mathews said. “Most Americans think about the military when we see a soldier in uniform, and maybe we even thank that person for their service.
“But we don’t always remember to thank our veterans, especially men and women like these who served us so many years ago.”
The mayor said that he truly believes “Veteran’s Day is great, but we should be mindful of these men and women and the sacrifices they made for this country every day.”
He added that “there are a lot of Keller citizens connected to the military — veterans, active duty families, reserves — and they serve so selflessly that it’s easy to forget about them as we’re going about our daily lives. Today was a wonderful opportunity for me personally to think about what their service means to me and my family, and this country as a whole, and express my gratitude.”
Jamie Bryant, Legacy at Bear Creek executive director, said they plan to do similar tributes on a regular basis. The tribute involved patriotic red, white and blue decorations and appropriately colorful cake.
Mathews visited with Byington and others at the veteran’s table, asking their branches of service and saying, “I am so glad what you guys gave to your service. Your generation answered the call of what needs to be done and what’s right. We wouldn’t be here today without you all.”