Bill Thomas, 99, writes about his favorite Veterans Day(s)

Courtesy file photo Bill Thomas, now 99, and his wife of 71 years, Soula, stand near the memorial plaque he designed which now rests in Eisenhower Park in Seal Beach.

One of the greatest Veteran’s Day holiday I truly enjoyed the most was on when we dedicated the Memorial Plaque during an event at Eisenhower Park in Seal Beach.
At that time, I was the Commander of the VFW, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4048, and Vice Commander of American Legion Post 857, both in Seal Beach.

About 250 people came to hear my speech about 57 million veterans.

Just as the applause ended, the Master of Ceremonies announced, “Now that we have heard about Veterans on November 11th, tomorrow is November 12th… it is Bill’s birthday.”

Everyone sang the “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” song.

I was surprised and delighted so many people sang a song to me.
But I’d say the most memorable Veteran’s Day I remember was celebrated on Nov. 11, 1918, when the World War in Europe ended with the signing of the “ARMISTICE” that is now known as VETERANS DAY.

The name was changed in 1954. Congress passed the bill that President Eisenhower signed, proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day.

This is one date that we will have forever. It will be remembered as the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, of every year.”

I had given the “57 MILLION VETERANS” speech at several other locations. Then, I was presented with a large “CERTIFICATE of APPRECIATION” from State Senator Ling Lange Chang, and another CERTIFICATE from Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva.
I am proud to have designed the 36’ x 24” bronze plaque (inset).

I wrote the words and designed this plaque as a challenge by the members of American Legion Post 857 and the VFW Post 4048.

They honored me with a wooden plaque for a job well done.

When we purchased the bronze Plaque for $7,000 (with donated money), I chose the company that promised to IMBUE the colors into the metal. (The colors have lasted for over 20 years, and still look good as new.)

The bronze plaque is mounted on a concrete pedestal at the entrance of the Seal Beach Pier in Seal Beach, California. It has been seen by thousands of Pier strollers, and photographed by hundreds of photo-enthusiasts Many stories and photos about this plaque have been published in several local weekly newspapers, and in a few other publications.

The plaque reads: “In commemoration of all the military veterans of the U. S. A. of the past, present, and future who served in the six branches of the service since the Revolutionary War. Let’s remember and forever honor all military veterans, including our Prisoners of War and the Missing in Action. Men and women, living, deceased, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, POWs and MIAs.”
The design incorporates a map to designate our sovereign country, stripes to indicate the 13 original colonies, stars for each of the 50 states and a large circle to denote the world in which we serve. It was dedicated and donated to the City of Seal Beach on Memorial Day, 2012.

Most people refrain from asking me about the “PURPLE HEART” cap I wear occasionally. It’s to cover the lotion I have to apply to my scalp.

I received a facial wound while in combat on the Anzio Beachhead, Italy, during World War 2. I lost five top front teeth; but NOT my sense of humor.

Our daughter Mary purchased the cap while visiting the Mardi Gras.

Our daughter Zoe wrote to Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley to describe some of her Dad’s war experiences including his 565 days in combat. For all her efforts, the Thomas family was invited to celebrate Veterans Day on Thursday, November 11, 2021 in the HEROES HALL at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, California.

Their mission was to honor all VETERANS’ sacrifices; and to educate and inspire the community through the Veterans stories.

In addition the O.C. Supervisor presented William John Thomas, (that’s me) with a 12” x 18” framed certificate as the “2021 VETERAN of the YEAR.”

(Editor’s Note) Bill Thomas is 99-years-old and still a contributor to Event News Enterprise. We thank him for his lifetime of service to the nation as a veteran and his service to the community as a correspondent. He has received many awards not mentioned here, included recognition by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, CalVet and many other tributes. The ENE takes this opportunity to thank all veterans for their service as we celebrate our way of life and how much of it we owe to those who serve.