These Men Knew Their Destiny
“A man must know his destiny if he does not recognize it, then he is lost. By this I mean, once, twice, or at the very most, three times, fate will reach out and tap a man on the shoulder if he has the imagination, he will turn around and fate will point out to him what fork in the road he should take, if he has the guts, he will take it.” George S. Patton
John Heilman, previously from Rugby and currently residing in Bismarck- Former Last Man Commander – WWII US Army European Theatre, and Frederick Duane Baillie, of Rugby, the Last Man ADJ (Secretary) WW II US Army Pacific Theatre, were recently part of North Dakota’s 70th Anniversary North Dakota World War II Victory Roll Call Celebration.
According to the NDStudies.org website, 58,509 men and 1,570 women from North Dakota served during World War II, with an estimated 1,869 veterans of World War II still living in North Dakota.
The Victory Celebration was created as an observance of the 70th anniversary of the war’s end and was hosted by North Dakota’s 164th Infantry Regiment. The goal was to locate and thank those veterans living in North Dakota as well as ND veterans now living elsewhere. Each veteran received a letter of appreciation from Governor Dalrymple and a WWII 70th Anniversary coin specially designed by the North Dakota Patriot Guard in recognition of the ‘veterans great contribution to securing the freedom of the United States of America and the civilized world.’
The WWII veterans, known as part of the greatest generation, will always be remembered for their perseverance through difficult times of that era. That they not only survived, but also thrived is a testament to their extraordinary character. Their remarkable actions, during times of war and peace, ultimately made the United States a better place to live and a beacon a light for the world to follow. Born and raised in a tumultuous era marked by war and economic depression their spirit rose above it all to make their mark on the world that will be everlasting .
Tom Brokaw, author of the best selling book ‘The Greatest Generation’ asserts, ‘These men and women developed values of personal responsibility, duty, honor and faith. At every stage of their lives they were part of historic challenges and achievements of a magnitude the world had never before witnessed.’
The characteristics described by Brokaw and acknowledged by a thankful nation helped defeat Hitler, build the American economy, create the highways and byways of our country, while making advances in science and implementing visionary social programs to be a helping hand; far different than what those programs represent today. They were part of a generation that remember a time when communities were stable and close knit, when air and water were cleaner, and when people didn’t lock their doors.
To Frederick Duane Baillie, John Heilman and to all the other men and women of Rugby, Pierce County, North Dakota and the United States of America who served their country in its darkest hours of need; your city, your state and your country thank you for all that you have done. You are truly part of the greatest generation.
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