During a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, President Obama recognized the oldest known veteran still living in front of a crowd of 4,000 other veterans and guests.
Richard Overton is 107-years-old, and is the oldest living veteran in the United States. Overton was a part of the Army’s 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion and was in his 30s when he volunteered to serve in 1942.
“War’s nothing to be into,” Overton said during an interview with USA Today on Sunday. “You don’t want to go into the war if you don’t have to. But I had to go. I enjoyed it after I’d went and come back, but I didn’t enjoy it when was over there. I had to do things I didn’t want to do.”
“He was there at Pearl Harbor when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said, ‘I only got out of there by the grace of God,'” Obama said. “He carried on and lived his life with honor and dignity. He built his wife a house with his own two hands,” he continued.
Overton’s wife passed away over twenty years ago, but he still remains in the same house that they built together. He uses a wheelchair, however he can still stand and was able to rise to his feet as the crowd cheered for him.
Overton became part of the ceremony after he participated in the Honor Flight program, and visited Washington D.C. in May. He wanted to see the World War II Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the President. He was able to see the memorials, however he did not get to meet President Obama. Later, a visit was arranged for him to attend the Veteran’s Day event and meet the Obama while being recognized as the oldest living veteran.
Obama was very honored to get to meet such an amazing man, that risked his life for our country. He applauded his service and the life that he has since made for himself. “Our message to all those who’ve ever worn the uniform of this nation is this: We will stand by your side, whether you’re seven days out or, like Richard, 70 years out,” Obama said, “because here in America we take care of our own, we honor the sacrifice that has been made in our name for this nation that we love, and we commit ourselves to standing by these veterans and their families for as long as we’re blessed to walk this earth.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons