A well-deserved honor

Published 8:35 am Tuesday, March 20, 2018

This year marks 73 years since the end of World War II and the victory of the allies over Nazi Germany and imperial Japan.

For many in this region, the conflict and the experience of what has come to be known as the “Greatest Generation” was something they often heard of firsthand, whether from parents, grandparents or neighbors.

But, as time passes and fewer veterans of the war remain, the conflict fades into the past.

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A few years ago, the death of Frank Buckles, 110, of West Virginia, marked the last of America’s World War I veterans. Although it once seemed inconceivable, within a generation, similarly, the veterans of the second world war will also depart us and belong to the ages.

Freedom and democracy faced an existential crisis in that war, with fascist tyrants such as Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini and others intent on conquering the vast majority of the globe, murdering millions and bringing more under their repressive rule.

It took half a decade of fighting by soldiers in allied forces to bring the Axis powers to surrender.

The sacrifice of those who served in the conflict saved the world from a bleak fate — which is why it is imperative that we honor those veterans who are still among us.

Jack Baker, 98, of Olive Hill, Kentucky, was drafted into the U.S. Army at age 25 and took part in the landing of Allied forces in Normandy, France and served in every major European battle until the wars end. He was among troops who entered Nazi concentration camps and was one of the first to arrive in liberated Paris.

This week, Baker will be honored by top generals of this country, as well representatives as the nation of France that he helped to free, when he is formally presented with the French Legion of Honor at the old Olive Hill High School.

It is a well-deserved honor for man who remains humble about his experience, preferring to keep to fishing in Carter County, where he is a familiar sight.

We salute Baker for all he did in World War II and encourage all who can to attend the ceremony at 1 p.m. on Wednesday to show their respect and appreciation.