BANGOR, Maine — For the past 11 years, Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor has done all it could to encourage World War II veterans to march in area parades, including the distribution of more than 2,000 maple walking sticks.
Come Thursday, Sept. 2, museum founder Galen Cole hopes these veterans in their 80s and 90s will turn out once more, this time with no marching required.
At 1 p.m., World War II vets will have a place of honor seated near the Maine World War II Memorial at the museum at 405 Perry Road for the public 65th anniversary commemoration of the end of World War II.
Veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam War and the war on global terror also will sit in groups at the community celebration of the surrender by Japan and the end of the two-ocean war.
Participants will include World War II veterans with a variety of service:
ä Retired Col. Clifford “Bruz” West of Winthrop, a Bangor native who served with the Marines at Peleliu and Okinawa in the Pacific
ä Guy and Nancy Ellms of Dexter. Guy was in the U.S. Army at Anzio, Italy, and in Germany. Nancy was a U.S. Navy WAVE.
ä Herschel Norwood of Southwest Harbor, who was in the invasion at Normandy, France, and has three Purple Hearts.
ä Galen Cole of Bangor, museum founder, who served with the 5th Armored Division of the U.S. Army in Germany.
ä Warren Burns, who flew B-17 missions over Germany.
Burns of the Black Bear Men’s Chorus will lead a sing-along of U.S. service songs, including “America the Beautiful,” “White Cliffs of Dover” and “God Bless the USA.”
The oldest World War II veteran in attendance will receive an American flag from the Marine Corps League, which also will present the colors and perform a 21-gun salute.
As a lead-up to the 65th anniversary on Sept. 2, WWII veterans will be available to meet and answer questions from visitors to the museum. The veterans will be available 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, Aug. 29-Sept. 1, and 9 a.m.-noon Thursday, Sept. 2. World War II veterans carrying their walking sticks will be admitted free to the museum Aug. 29-Sept. 2 with their families.
More than 20,000 Maine youngsters in recent years have interviewed veterans through the Ambassadors of Freedom Program at Cole Land Transportation Museum — many of them World War II vets.
Other activities on Sept. 2 will include a singalong, a cake and ice cream party, and a showing of the video of the parade in 1995.
“We urge all veterans to wear their caps and carry their walking sticks,” Cole said. “Museum volunteers will greet veterans and families and help them find their appropriate seats.”
There will be gifts for World War II veterans and for children attending.
Also attending will be Gov. John E. Baldacci, who will issue a proclamation commemorating the end of World War II and urging communities and organizations to ring their bells from noon to 1 p.m. Sept. 2.
The Maine Council of Churches is asking churches statewide to join in the bell ringing at the same time.
The bell ringing recalls the bells that rang in celebration of the end of the war in 1945, said Cole, and on anniversaries in 1995, 2000 and 2005.
In addition, Cole said, “all who ring the Cole Museum antique church bell, which will be located outside at the museum — the bell that rings in all Bangor Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day parades — will receive a keepsake card stating that they rang the Freedom Bell.”
A U.S. military helicopter will land on the grounds at the Cole Museum on Sept. 2, and the Maine Air National Guard is scheduled to do a flyover with a KC-135 tanker between 2:50 and 3:05 p.m.
Master of ceremonies Don Colson will read from Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s statement during the ceremony of surrender by Japan.