Cedars establishes Wall of Honor

It is hard, today, to think of their sacrifice.

“And how young they were,” said Cathy Ehley, the Recreation and Wellness Director at The Cedars of Austin.

She was referring to those who served in World War II and the Korean War — and the selflessness many veterans showed in the face of death.

Photographs of some of those veterans will soon be on a Wall of Honor at The Cedars. Near the wall will be a book containing all their biographies.

The wall was unveiled Wednesday to a full house of vets and their families. Photos were lined up, shoulder to shoulder, and each wrapped with a yellow ribbon. Each family member was asked to cut the ribbon — alerting staff that they had also read and approved the biography. There were 34 photographs in all.

The idea was the brainchild of The Cedars’ resident Charlotte “Chuck” Keller, 93.

She recalled getting a phone call from her sister in Portland, Oregon, who asked if she had heard of a Wall of Honor.

Ann Dolan, left, and her daughter, Meg Wagner, read John Dolan's biography as part of the Wall of Honor event at the Cedars of Austin on Wednesday.

Ann Dolan, left, and her daughter, Meg Wagner, read John Dolan’s biography as part of the Wall of Honor event at the Cedars of Austin on Wednesday.

After getting the idea approved from the staff of The Cedars, Keller and Ehley headed the effort to collect photos and the biographies. Later, the photos will be hung on a wall and the biographies gathered into a nearby book.

“Chuck said, ‘We should be honoring our veterans all year long,” Ehley recalled.

Unveiling the wall on the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor seemed appropriate, Ehley added.

Keller — whose late husband Clifford was a Navy veteran — had seven of the 11 brothers and sisters in her family serve during World War II.

“There was a sense of patriotism then that you could feel,” Keller said. “They were so angry that someone had done that to them, after Pearl Harbor. It was an amazing time in our country’s history.”

Her son, Tim, spoke briefly of service by some of The Cedars’ veterans, such as one who, in a PT boat, followed the USS Missouri on its way into Tokyo harbor and upon whose deck Japan surrendered to end the war in the South Pacific. Another veteran was 15 years old when he entered the service, did his stint, and finished high school after he was discharged. Still another flew B-17s over the English Channel; another parachuted behind enemy lines.

Les Buck of Austin displays his photograph, taken when he was just 20 and a member of the Quartermaster Corps.

Les Buck of Austin displays his photograph, taken when he was just 20 and a member of the Quartermaster Corps.

Les Buck, 95, who spent most of his adult life as a livestock buyer for Hormel’s, was a member of the newly-formed 10th Mountain Battalion. He was a member of the Quartermaster Corps and initially spent time testing equipment — such as tents — in the Colorado mountains before being shipped out to the Aleutian Islands, where  his unit oversaw supplies.

Meg Wagner of Austin read her father John’s biography with her mother, Ann Dolan. Meg said she was touched by the efforts taken to hold up her father’s memory of service in Korea.

Blinking back tears, she said reading of her father’s life in the biography was emotional.

“I think of what he went through,” she said, wiping her eyes. “These kids were 18, 19 years old, so young. I think of what that would be like for a child of mine — I would be wondering, ‘Is he scared? Is he OK?’

Keller said the greatest generation was humble.

“I always think of what (Gen.) Dwight D. Eisenhower said of the these guys, ‘We will never see their like again’ — and you know, we won’t.”

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