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Local Veterans Honored at McDonald's

The Oakettes sang patriotic tunes while restaurant guests shared memories and remembered loved ones.

From "America the Beautiful" to "Anchors Away," a small group of men and women belted out patriotic tunes before a backdrop of flags and wartime memorabilia. This wasn't an old Bob Hope USO show—although many in attendance had seen such shows in person—this was the Perry Hall McDonald's Veterans Day celebration Wednesday morning.

The music was provided by the Oakettes, a singing group from the Seven Oaks Senior Center, under the direction of Henry King, 75, a Rosedale resident.

The performance was not intended to glorify war, King said, but rather to honor the brave men and women who endure it. He said this was demonstrated in the song, "Let There be Peace on Earth."

"[Peace] is something that we all work for and hope for, not just in the U.S. but in all the world," he said. 

At one point during the program, Joe Ed Lawrence, 69, who served in the Air Force for 30 years, was asked to speak about his extensive military service. "It's the same as the 'Wizard of Oz,' " he said, "You have to have heart, courage and brains and the Wicked Witch is having to leave your family."

Lawrence spent much of his military career in Central Africa and said the hardest part was being so far from home. 

The program was also an opportunity for families to remember veterans who had since passed away.

Margaret Dietz, 90, a Perry Hall resident, carried a framed black and white photograph of her husband, Jackson, who died in June 2007. He fought mostly in the Philippines during World War II, she said, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service.

"The family was always proud," she said. 

They were married in September 1942, while Jackson was stationed in Washington, D.C., she said, adding that he was only allowed five days to get married and go on a brief honeymoon before he was sent back to war.

Ed Chlan, 79, who served in the Navy during the Korean War, said he appreciated that McDonald's assistant manager Wanda Muse coordinated the event.

"The country isn't as dedicated to the veterans as they used to be," Chlan said, "But Wanda always looks out for the veterans."

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