By U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, published in The Tampa Tribune on May 25, 2015.
Every generation of American service men and women defines the courage and determination of our nation. Salutes to the Greatest Generation are especially poignant this year as we recognize the 70th anniversary of World War II Victory in Europe (V-E) Day and the 70th anniversary of Victory in Japan (V-J) Day. The Greatest Generation answered the call to ensure that freedom, hope and opportunity triumphed at home and across the globe. Out of the gloom of the Great Depression and into raging war in Europe and the Pacific, the determination of America's proud sons and daughters defined bravery for all the world to see.
“There hasn’t been too much done on V-E Day,” said Gerald “Bud” Berry, 94, a local WWII and V-E Day veteran, in a recent article by Tampa Tribune’s Howard Altman. “World War II veterans are dying off and people are forgetting the day.”
On this day, Memorial Day, we salute 1st Lt. Berry and remember the men and women who served by his side on the battlefield and at home leading up to V-E Day and the end of WWII, especially the millions who are no longer with us but have left their indelible mark.
During WWII, 16 million Americans served our nation. Today, it is estimated there are just under a million veterans who are helping us recount history firsthand, but hundreds are leaving us each day. It is estimated that in some 20 years there will be no living WWII veterans. Tampa Bay is a patriotic community and we are honored to have Berry and others from the Greatest Generation among us. We will not forget your service and sacrifice. In fact, one way to ensure that future generations remember your service is through the Veterans History Project. I am proud to have submitted oral histories of other local WWII veterans to this special collection in the U.S. Library of Congress. The personal recorded narratives, correspondence and visual items – such as photographs and scrap books – live on forever.
I encourage you to contact me or my office if you or someone you know is a veteran and would like share a personal account so that we can continue to chronicle the stories of each generation of brave Americans. This is open not only to war heroes, but also civilians directly involved in supporting war efforts – Heroes of the Home Front.
On this day, Memorial Day, we salute and remember all of the sacrifices of America's fallen heroes in America’s wars and conflicts. Our WWII V-E and V-J heroes deserve special appreciation this year as the Greatest Generation of American service men and women represent the very best of our country’s history. You helped protect freedom at home and abroad, and a proud nation is eternally grateful.