Butte des Morts gives World War II veteran a homecoming
A World War II Veteran from Butte des Morts is being honored for his service after a trip to Washington, DC.
It was done as a part of the "Vets Roll" program, an alternative to the Honor Flights for older vets unable to fly or who would find the whirlwind one-day trip too wearisome.
In the middle of the afternoon Thursday, people gathered along the street in downtown Butte des Morts to join a parade in honor of George Kontos, a local resident who served in the Navy during World War II mostly in the South Pacific.
Kontos said, "This is hometown. This is what really counts."
He added, "It's an experience, once in a lifetime you know."
The parade, followed by a formal ceremony, comes after Kontos spent the past three days on a bus trip with other veterans which provided an opportunity to tour the memorials in Washington, DC.
Members of the local Lions Club raised money to cover some of the cost.
"It's worth it. It really is worth it. When you're on hallowed ground down there it's... you can't place your finger on it. You look around at all the other vets and they're doing the same thing you are, just staring, you know," he said.
George's daughter Janet Veith said, "It was a tough war. It was hard for him to think about it, so I think that this provided some closure for him, a way for him to heal."
Just outside the Lions Club a sign is now on display reading "Welcome Home George! Thank You For Your Service."
For many of the people in this small town who showed up for this ceremony, it meant a lot.
"This is what is the greatest thing about America, Americana, small town Americana. You saw the little parade we had. It's only two blocks. We had a high school band. It was a tremendous experience for the whole community," said Joe Yana, a member of the Lion's Club.