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Tom Brokaw coined the phrase "The Greatest Generation" (in his book entitled the same) in reference to the generation of Americans that served their country in W.W.II. A generation of Americans that were born during or after W.W.I, that were children in the 1920s and the Great Depression of the 1930s. They matured at a time of worldwide war, a time when the axis alliance of Adolf Hitler and Germany, Benito Mussolini and Italy, and Imperial Japan, led by prime minister Hideki Tojo under Emperor Hirohito, were attempting to expand their nations’ boundary lines. In 1939, Germany decided to advance their nation’s boundary lines by invading neighboring countries in Europe. By 1941, Germany and Italy had advanced into most of Europe and North Africa and were attacking Russia and Great Britain. Japan had advanced into many small countries and islands in the South Pacific including the Phillipines. Americans were divided in war sentiment. It had only been twenty-four years since W.W. I had ended and although concern was very high for our European allies, the thought of another major war was hard to bear. On December 7th, 1941 that sentiment changed in the course of a few hours with the attack on our naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It was clear to America that day. This was not going to be just a European or an Asian War. The axis alliance had no intention to stop in the Eastern Hemisphere of the planet. Japan had made a terrible miscalculation. A sleeping giant had been awakened. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed Congress and a declaration of war against Japan was made. This led to immediate declarations of war from Germany and Italy and declarations of war from the U.S. against Germany and Italy as well. President Roosevelt’s first focus was Europe and coming to the aid of Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain and General Secretary Joseph Stalin of the U.S.S.R. What ensued was a war that re-defined not only warfare but the world as it was known.
On Saturday December 8th, St. Francisville Lodge #588 A.F. & A.M. is honoring the members of this "Greatest Generation" still living in our county. The evening will begin with a free will soup supper at the middle school commons area hosted by Kahoka Chapter #40 Order of the Eastern Star. The meal will be served from 4:30-6:30. The program will begin at 7:00 p.m. During this program there will be an impressive flag ceremony to honor our nations flag. Carol Sowers of KHQA news and Rev. Shawn McAfee will emcee the evening. The CCR-1 Band and the CCR-1 Choir will perform. Mr. Daniel McAfee & Miss Elsa Scott will sing songs from the time period. Rev. Maynard Blackwood of Knox City, a retired Technician 5th class of the United States Army who landed on Omaha Beech on D-Day will address the veterans and share some of his experiences. Stories collected from interviews of W.W.II veterans in our county this month will be shared. Stories from humble servants who served their country in a time of terrific need. These stories will include all branches of the military. These stories include a nose gunner on a B-24 bomber who made 44 bombing raids in the South Pacific, members of Destroyer Escorts that sunk German and Japanese submarines, infantrymen who had as many as 96 battle days in Okinawa and an army air corp nurse who was the senior surgical nurse at an army hospital station in the South Pacific.
Next June the CCR-1 Band travels to Pearl Harbor. There they will perform on the USS Missouri, and see the Pearl Harbor memorial where the Japanese made that infamous attack that brought our nation into the war. On December 8th at the Edna L. Seyb auditorium they will meet some of these veterans and they’ll get a glimpse of world events in the 1940s, a taste of the music from the times and a chance to connect with the past. This event is held in honor of our W.W.II veterans. A collection to help cover the band expenses to travel to Pearl Harbor will be taken during the evening.
Shawn McAfee, Secretary of St. Francisville Lodge #588 stated, " I hope everyone will come out for this event. When I was young the school gym was filled every time there was school function or a countywide event. I haven’t seen that lately. The Old Settler’s Sesquicentennial Program was awesome but the attendance was in my mind poor. If there is ever an event that the entire county should come out for, I believe honoring our W.W.II veterans is it. Currently they are passing away at a rate of a thousand a day. I wish I had helped organize this while my grandfather was alive but I didn’t. I look forward to honoring these honorable men and women."
That evening there will be a registration table for all W.W.II veterans and a registration table for all veterans of the armed forces. During the evening all veterans and service men and women will be recognized. The focus December 8th will be on W.W.II veterans but no veteran will be left out. There will also be display tables if some of the W.W.II veterans would like to bring some memorabilia or pictures to share with the community. The lodge requests that the veterans or their families please bring these items that night and take them home at the close of the evening. W.W.II veterans and their spouses will be given front row seats that evening. At the end of the evening the lodge requests that the veterans stay for a group picture for families and the local newspapers.