NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Known as the 'Greatest Generation', World War II veterans and their families weathered many storms with courage and dignity. On Sunday, these folks were honored during the second annual Spirit of '45 Day event at Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral home in Nacogdoches.
"You see things and it may be hard, but you just brush it off," said Ray Shadden, Army Airborne Div. South Pacific.
The war ended 66 years ago this month, but for the young men who lived it, it feels like yesterday.
"It was awful. The happiest day of the war was when they told us it was over," said Truman Williams, Army Infantry.
These East Texas World War II vets are part of the Greatest Generation.
"Most of the time you forget about the war. You just get back into civilian life. Do the things you need to do, the things you're supposed to do, have to do - to get along," said Elmer Boatman, Army Field Artillery.
The Spirit of '45 event celebrates their courage during the war and after.
The significance of his time overseas hit army vet, Ray Shadden, hard.
"You're not trained to see people die, but you know why your going there somebody's going to die," said Shadden.
However, Shadden says he and his fellow countrymen were raised to deal with whatever came their way.
"They were brought up during hard circumstances in this country. We had just come through the Great Depression," said Shadden.
Truman Williams agrees.
"The kids aren't raised for it no more. We we're raised in the cotton patch, the corn fields and the saw meals," said Williams.
The best example of how these men refused to give up has to be Elmer Boatman.
"I just got hit in the leg. What hurt me worse the shrapnel hit me in the helmet - bent it down even with my head. Knocked me out for awhile," said Boatman.
He didn't want to lose his company, so he got treated at the aid station, and healed. Then. he got back to the business of war. Which is how many of these men lived the rest of their lives.
"Just like when you go to war you have all kinds of circumstances you take care of it as they come to you," said Shadden.
During the spirit of '45 event, a local historian, Dr. Bobby Johnson, was invited to speak about the war.
Lemonade was served, while live music from the '4s was played by a Nacogdoches jazz band.