Charlie & Debbie

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Former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw referred them as “The Greatest Generation” of Americans.  He was not wrong.

He refers of course to my grandparents generation.  Those that were born before or around the great depression, fought WWII, and came home to build our nation into the greatest the world had ever seen.  My admiration for them is never-ending.

As is my admiration for 8-year-old Union County boy, Landon Knestrick.

Four years ago, after watching a documentary of the USS Arizona, the Stallings boy became mesmerized by WWII vet Donald Stratton (an Arizona survivor).  It became his Christmas wish that year to meet him.  His family was able to track down Stratton through social media, and they connected their son with him via Facetime.

They’ve been corresponding friends ever since.

-In June 2018, Landon and his family traveled to Colorado Springs where Donald lived to witness a bridge dedication ceremony of the “Donald Stratton Bridge” in Colorado Springs.

-In Jan. 2019, a Quilt of Valor was awarded to Donald, thanks to a nomination Landon wrote on his behalf.

-In Nov. 2019, thanks to help from the Strattons, Landon was able to unveil a piece of the USS Arizona now on permanent display at Landon’s school, Charlotte Prep.

USS Arizona Survivor, WWII vet, and True American hero, Donald Stratton passed away last week at age 97.  Another member of  that Greatest Generation, gone, but after a long life.

This Saturday, Landon will say his final goodbye to his friend in Colorado Springs, as the 8-year-old was asked to be a speaker at Donald’s memorial.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it until the last one leaves us:  if and when you come across a WWII vet, publicly acknowledge them with gratitude.  All those brave souls did was bravely answer their country’s call, left their homes, and saved the world for all of us.

For that, a hug and “thank you” is the least we can do.