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WWII commemoration to be held in Tampa

World War II vets are disappearing quickly. In fact, if they were diamonds, gold or silver and vanishing at the same rate, world markets would be thrown into disarray and panic would grip most of the world.

The comparison perhaps helps put into perspective just how unique and historical events like Saturday's World War II Commemoration to be held in downtown Tampa will be. Home to the second largest population of WWII vets, Florida is a fitting place for the kickoff of the first of six commemoratives to honor vets from every military branch that fought in the last war to end all wars.

The event, sponsored by the Department of Defense World War II 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, will be at the Tampa Convention Center and start at 1 p.m. Saturday. Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio is co-hosting the event. Among other dignitaries will be retired Congressman and WWII Army vet Sam Gibbons. Former Marine and TV anchorman Bob Hite will be the master of ceremonies.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the World War II 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee's public affairs officer at 703-696-0093 or locally at the U.S. Army Office of chief of public affairs Tampa branch, 832-1112.

Army Col. (Ret.) Edward Dascher, a teacher at Hernando Community College on base here, said the event is much appreciated by those like himself, who lived and battled their way through Europe, Africa and the Pacific during what many consider the defining period of the 20th Century.

"It's good to see recognition for the job done and everything everyone went through during that time," he said.

Mary Ellen Harlan, of the Hillsborough County Veterans Council, said the event will have a special guest of honor for each branch of the service, including the Merchant Marines. The event is expected to be especially poignant, as American Servicemembers are overseas fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for the same principles of freedom that were the driving force behind the cause of Allied Forces during WWII.




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