William Bishop was 17 years and 10 days old when he left high school and asked for his father's permission to join the Navy.
At left, members of the Jesse C. Lynch Memorial American Legion Post in North Augusta fire a gun salute in honor of World War II veterans at a ceremony in North Augusta on May 29. The ceremony coincided with the dedication of a World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett
By then, World War II was coming to a close, but Bishop still felt the urgent need to join his comrades in the Pacific Ocean.
On May 29, several veterans groups came together in North Augusta to honor World War II veterans such as Bishop before celebrating Memorial Day.
"Monday we will honor all the dead," said Mike Strauss, a Gulf War veteran, who is the commander of the Jesse C. Lynch Memorial American Legion Post 71, the site of the May 29 ceremony. "Today's just World War II. It's decades past what should have been."
Attended by members of several area veterans' groups, including American Legion Post 63 in Augusta, Marine Corps League, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the 40 and 8 and the Sons of the American Legion, the ceremony was held at the exact same time as the ceremony in Washington, D.C., dedicating the new World War II monument.
The ceremony featured a gun-salute by the American Legion Post honor guard and the retirement of several worn American flags.
During the ceremony, the World War II veterans gathered in formation and passed in review. Some of them, including Bishop, wore their uniforms.
Veterans from all branches of the service were honored, and there were women honored as well as men.
Beverly Funderburg served in the Coast Guard in San Francisco and Massachusetts from March 5, 1943 to May 7, 1946.
"I was glad it was hot (outside). I was sweating, and it hid my tears," Funderburg said after the ceremony inside the American Legion post.
Veterans were treated to a barbecue lunch and other refreshments, and there was a time of fellowship and reminiscing over the many photographs and other memorabilia that veterans brought with them.
"A lot of them have never told their story," Strauss said. "Today is their day."
Many of the younger veterans talked about how the monument was overdue; Funderburg said she didn't ever consider that.
"I never thought about it being due," she said. "I never gave it a thought that we didn't have a memorial. I'm proud to be alive to take part in it."
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