World War II veteran honors fallen friends at Veterans Day service: ‘God bless them’

ST. GEORGE Hundreds of community members gathered Saturday morning on the lawn of the SunRiver Veterans Honor Park to pay tribute to the nation’s service men and women in the annual Veterans Day program.

World War II veteran Carl Cook gives a special address during the SunRiver Veterans Day service at the SunRiver Veterans Honor Park, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Saturday’s event was the seventh Veterans Day program to be held at the Honor Park since it was built, said Tom Cover.

A veteran himself, Cover was instrumental in raising the funds to build the park and acts as the master of ceremonies for the service.

Several veteran service organizations participated in the program, including the American Legion Post 142, the Marine Corps League Utah Dixie Detachment 1270, Vietnam Veterans of America Southern Utah Chapter 961, the Knights of Columbus and the Patriot Guard Riders.

The patriotic and at times poignant service was highlighted by guest speaker Carl Cook, a 92-year old World War II veteran.

Cook enlisted as a Marine on Feb. 9, 1942 at the age of 16 and served in two of the bloodiest battles in the South Pacific during World War II – the battle at Tarawa (Tarawa Atoll) in November 1943 and the Battle of Iwo Jima (Japan) in February through March of 1945.

In the battle at Iwo Jima, the Marines alone lost 6,821 servicemen. The Japanese lost 18,375 – only 200 Japanese surrendered, Cover said.

In his address, Cook shared stories of his time in the service which he described as being both good and bad.

Cook jokingly told the audience that he was only able to enlist at 16 because he caught his father drinking one night and asked him to sign the papers.

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders enter on their motorcycles during the Veterans Day service at the SunRiver Veterans Honor Park, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

But he also spoke somberly of his friends who were killed in the line of duty.

“You can’t imagine the dead Marines that were friends,” Cook said. “They died to give you the life you have today.”

Veterans Day is observed in the United States Nov. 11 each year to commemorate the signing of the armistice that ended hostilities in World War I. In other countries around the world, the day is celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.

While Veterans Day pays tribute to veterans of all wars and honors service men and women both living and dead, Cook paid special respect to those who had died in conflict.

Those soldiers who lost their lives had hopes and dreams, Cook said, and they sacrified all of those dreams for the sake of others.

“God bless them,” he said.

Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution Color Country Chapter were in attendance at the ceremony, selling baked goods to raise funds for Wreaths Across America. Each December, Wreaths Across America places Christmas wreaths on the graves of veterans who have died. Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution play a huge role in raising funds to purchase the wreaths.

World War II veteran Carl Cook gives a special address during the SunRiver Veterans Day service at the SunRiver Veterans Honor Park, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

As ancestors of those who fought in the American Revolutionary War, the Daughters of the American Revolution place a high value on honoring the nation’s veterans, Color Country Chapter Vice Regent Valerie King said.

“It’s always an honor and a privelege to be here … Our freedoms today are because of those that (served) before us,” King said.

Also in attendance were representatives from the St. George Police Department, the St. George Fire Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

St. George Mayor Jon Pike sang the national anthem, and patriotic musical numbers were performed by Jerry Miranda and Brodie Perry.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: hreina@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply