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WWII Vets in Baraboo Gym

Most basketball fans don’t expect to be wiping away tears during a halftime presentation, but that’s exactly what happened to many in the crowd at last night’s boys basketball game.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which launched the United States into a four-year engagement in World War II.

To memorialize this event, Baraboo High School Civics teacher Steve Argo invited surviving WWII veterans from the community to receive honor and recognition during last night’s game.

The entire gymnasium rose to its feet as the men, the youngest of them pushing 90, stood with stoicism and pride to receive the thanks of their community.

Men who came in from the cold night in red plaid Stormy Kromer hats and on the arms of middle-aged children were called out by name, and branch of service, and acts of valor.

They had fought the Japanese in the Pacific Theater, liberated France, fought in the Battle of Okinawa, and rebuilt Germany.

They hard earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart.

“Had it not been for the bravery, endurance, and devotion to duty of men like these, none of us, none of this, might even exist,” Argo told them. “Gentlemen, we honor you not for your heroism — though heroes you are — or even because your side — our side — won. We honor you because you chose to make a difference and you put your lives on the line to prove it.”

Students from the Baraboo 21 Club, which is fundraising for a WWI memorial along the Baraboo River, joined in presenting the men with plaques crafted in the Tech Ed department at the high school.

And as they filed out of the gym, gingerly running their fingers across the words on their plaques, high schoolers from the student section of the stands rushed to shake their hands, and strangers with tears in their eyes approached each one to thank him.

And then, as unassumingly as they had arrived, they joined arms with their proud children and left back out into the night.

Today we are #Barabooproud of teachers like Steve Argo, who bring history and civic duty to life for their classes; students who are role models of respect and engagement with their community; and most of all of the men and women who supported and served their country as part of that Greatest Generation.

On this Pearl Harbor Day, we honor you.

Last Updated: 1/23/17
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