- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2015

SELMA, Ala. (AP) - Wednesday was a special day for area World War II veterans who attended the fourth annual veterans honor reception at the Vaughan Smitherman Museum.

Veterans had the opportunity to eat, see familiar faces and meet new ones as they shared memories of their days in the military. After the meal, the veterans were awarded certificates of appreciation and had a chance to tell about a memory they had of the war.

“It’s nice to honor the veterans after they’ve passed away at a memorial service, but I think it’s better to honor them while they’re living,” said Pat Godwin, president of Selma Chapter 53 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. “My mother always said that flowers are for the living, so this is their flowers.”

Around 20 veterans attended the reception.

“They love it. A lot of them already know each other because they’re members of the American Legion, or they go to the same church or whatever, but there’s some of them who have not met each other but they share a camaraderie that’s very unique,” Godwin said. “It’s probably one of the most gratifying events that I’ve ever had the pleasure and the honor to be a part of.”

Catesby Jones, a veteran of the U.S. Army, said he likes attending the event each year.

“It is wonderful that the UDC does this every year and I really enjoy coming,” Jones said. “I thank the UDC so much for what they do for us veterans.”

Although when most people think of WWII veterans, they probably think of gentlemen, there were indeed women serving.

Helen Lattel is living proof that women were a big part of the war effort.

“The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was formed May of 1942, and Oct. of 1942 I enlisted,” the young 95-year-old Lattel said. “We were the very first girls.”

Lattel and other veterans shared many memories, and laughs, during their time.

“What a privilege and an honor and to be honored,” Lattel said. “As I tell Pat (Godwin), this is the nucleus of Selma. Pat is a wonderful American in every sense of the word. She is the one that honors us all.”

Lattel said it’s not only the stories that she remembers from the war day - she remembers the faces as well.

“I knew most of these guys when they were young, good looking. Goodness gracious,” Lattel said.

Marion “Pete” Edwards, a veteran with the 35th infantry division of the Army National Guard, said he enjoys getting out and seeing his fellow veterans.

“I love to get with (the other veterans) and find out where they’ve been and how they come out,” Edwards said.

Godwin said if there are any veterans that would like to be invited to next year’s event, to call her at (334) 875-1690.

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Information from: Times Journal, http://www.selmatimesjournal.com/

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