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Dinner-dance to honor WWII veterans

October 30, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Not wanting to chance another bad-weather day that literally rained on their parade last year, Washington County veterans groups are planning an indoor dinner-dance this year to honor those who served in World War II.

"Everything will be inside this year beginning at noon on Saturday, Dec. 7," said Speener Hose, one of the organizers of this year's tribute.

Hose, a former commander of Hagerstown VFW Post 1936, said it was no coincidence that the dinner-dance will be held on the 61st anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

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"These veterans deserve whatever we can do for them," Hose said. The event will be free to all World War II veterans, their wives and husbands.

Co-sponsored by the VFW post and the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County, the event will begin at noon with entertainment, including patriotic singing, clog and jitterbug dancing performers.

The meal will be buffet-style, provided by Leiter's Catering, Hose said. He said VFW auxiliary members will be available to assist veterans who are unable to stand in a buffet line.

"We are also expecting a very prominent national political figure and World War II veteran to come and speak to us," Hose said. He wouldn't reveal the name of the speaker.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Tom Bratten Jr. is planning to attend again this year, Hose said.

"You know Bratten's father died in the D-Day invasion and he was born two months later," Hose said. Bratten became a quadriplegic during his military service in Vietnam.

After the speakers, there will be dancing to the music of a popular big band-era group from 4 to 7 p.m., Hose said.

"Unlike the parade last year, we are planning to repeat this dinner-dance every year from now on," Hose said.

Despite the rainy weather last year, 312 World War II veterans signed up for the activities, which culminated at the VFW headquarters at 70 E. Washington St.

Many of those veterans marched in the rain, determined to participate in a parade in their honor through downtown Hagerstown.

"Across the nation, the average age of a World War II veteran is 82.7 years," Hose said. "Our veterans are winding down their time with us - crowds will be getting smaller."

Between new VFW Commander Michael Horst, Hose and Harold "Sky" King, plans for the dinner-dance are progressing.

Now the emphasis is on raising money through raffle tickets and donations, King said.

Tickets will be on sale at all American Legions, VFWs, Disabled American Veterans and AMVETS posts. Individual veterans also will have tickets.

Washington County veterans wishing to attend may sign up at the VFW Nov. 14 and 15, Nov. 18 to 22 and Nov. 25 to 27 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Proof of World War II service is required.

For more information, call 301-733-4178.

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