This Week, Dade (and The Planet) Will Honor Veterans!

November is a happening kind of month, but without enough daylight to fit all the happenings into. The time switch at the first of the month plunges the world into darkness just when you most wish there were a few more hours in the day to get R done.

Which is all a long-winded way of apologizing for getting Veteran's Day observations started late here at The Planet. A girl gets busy! But without wasting any more time, here are a couple of vet-related


First, Veterans Day is Nov. 11, but that's a Sunday and the national holiday will be observed Monday, Nov. 12, while meanwhile the annual American Legion Post 106 Veterans Day Parade through Trenton will be Saturday, Nov. 10. Lineup starts at Moore Funeral Home (junction of highways 11 and 136 East) at 11 a.m. and the parade starts at noon.

The Trenton Huddle House is honoring vets this weekend with a free order of "Sweet Cake" pancakes: All active-duty, retired and veteran military members can have free pancakes upon showing proper ID from Nov. 9-12 at the Huddle House on Highway 136 West.

Another story The Planet got out late--but you can find it from the Planet homepage just below this one--is that the Georgia Department of Transportation is having a breakfast tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 7, in Gainesville, Ga., focused on helping veterans with small businesses get GDOT road project contracts. If you can't get to Gainesville that quickly, but you do want a crack at those gummint contracts, here's a link to the program on GDOT's website:

And finally, let this serve as an announcement that I will forthwith resume the series of stories about Dade County World War II veterans I began publishing in The Planet last November. The stories come from interviews with Dade veterans in 2008 and 2009, when I was writing for The Dade Sentinel, and were originally published there. Since then, many of Dade's WWII veterans I interviewed for the series have died.

It is in the nature of history that records are destroyed or simply disappear with the passage of time; and the nature of history works double-time at my house. As I said in my pre-series commentary last year, I was astonished and delighted then to discover my vet stories stored in a forgotten box of floppy discs secreted in an obscure region of my workroom. Remember floppy discs? Alas, I didn't find many photographs of the veterans there, and what I had I think I probably shot my wad on last year. We'll have to manage this time without them. Notice that the photo on this article is one I kind of obviously didn't take myself--there are plenty of Iwo Jima pics to be had for free on the internet.

There are also a lot of them there of the USS Intrepid, the mighty aircraft carrier that after the war was turned into a floating museum in New York Harbor. But that's not really why I am starting this year with stories about Jakie Smith and Henry Rich, two Dade residents who served on Intrepid. I'm doing that because there is a weird story about them I've always remembered.

Jakie served on Intrepid from the day she was commissioned until she sailed home in 1946, and besides that he spent his whole life in Rising Fawn. Henry also was assigned to Intrepid before she was even pronounced ready to rock, he also served aboard her until the war was over, and he then lived the rest of his life in and around Trenton. But never once during those years on Intrepid, sailing through the islands and getting dive-bombed by kamikazes, did the two ever meet and recognize each other as homeboys.

Decades later, they knew each other back here in Dade and in fact went to the same church, but it was only through a veterans reunion that, through another former shipmate who knew them both, Jakie learned that Henry had served on Intrepid with him. See, it was a big honking ship, with a population as big as Trenton's, anyway; and once back home, Henry was the silent type who didn't like talking about the war.

A lot of vets didn't. A lot of vets I interviewed in 2008-9 told me they'd never spoken of the war until recently. A few chose not to start now, in fact, and refused to be interviewed for the series. And again, a whole lot of them have died since then.

One way or the other, I realized when I wrote them that the veterans' memories were precious and irreplaceable records, and I felt honored to be able to help preserve them. They grow more precious with every death and with every passing year, and I offer this set of them up here in The Planet as the best I can do for history--and for the veterans.

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