TIMONIUM – Veteran’s Day celebrations were in full swing at an unlikely location this year – Sam’s Club. With food, music and a color guard salute, more than 40 World War II and Korean War veterans were honored and given a free cane at the Timonium store Nov. 9.
“I had no idea this was going to be quite such a thing, you know I just thought we’d come over, get a cane and leave,” said 85-year-old World War II veteran and Timonium resident Leo Woerner. He said the free, collapseable cane was a perfect replacement for an old one he lost.
The event was sponsored by Hugo Salutes Our Veterans, a Georgia-based non-profit which gave out 36,000 free canes at Sam’s Club locations nationwide. By the end of the year, the non-profit will have given out more than 100,000 free canes around the country.
The veterans at the event, all from Baltimore County American Legion Maryland and VFW Posts, appreciated both the gift and opportunity to catch up with friends. But many said they were concerned about veterans coming back home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Folks now that have to got to Iraq and Afghanistan and they’re there and and they have wives and children back home and they’re older, it’s a more personal sacrifice today than it was when I was in World War II,” Woerner said.
More than 16 million served in the Armed Forces during World War II but there are only about two million veterans from that period still living today.