Local veterans honored at Rexburg ceremony
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REXBURG — Less than eight percent of those living in the United States wear the title of veteran and dozens of them attended a ceremony in Rexburg Monday morning.
The Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored the annual Veterans Day ceremony celebrating this year’s 75th Anniversary of the D-day invasion. The event, held at Madison High School, gave special honor to 94-year-old Verlan Lauder of Rexburg who participated in the invasion.
“It always makes me feel good when people get together in a situation like this,” Lauder told EastIdahoNews.com. “They don’t have to necessarily honor me.”
On June 6, 1944, then 17-years-old Lauder jumped from an airplane over Normandy along with his fellow 101st Airborne Division, nicknamed the Screaming Eagles. He spent weeks in battle securing bridges for advancing Allied forces. D-day wasn’t the only battle Lauder jumped into. He later participated in the Battle of the Bulge and finally an assault on Berchtesgaden, Germany.
He spent six more months in the occupation of Germany before returning to Idaho in 1946 as an American hero. He returned to Normandy this spring with a few dozen others in honor of D-day’s 75th anniversary. He says it’s great to have so much respect from those at home.
“When people tell us thank you it makes us feel like what we did was not in vain, that there was a reason for it,” he said. “That really makes us feel good.”
Dozens of other veterans were in attendance at Monday’s event, including retired Master Sgt. Michael Webster. His granddaughters Carlie Webster and Tyrza Hollist, who are on active duty in the army, accompanied him to the ceremony.
“I spent my whole life in the military,” Webster said. “When you put 42 and a half years in a thing and then you represent the country you love that’s given you so much, (it makes) this a great day. I will always enjoy Veterans Day.”
His granddaughter Carlie took honoring veterans day a step further by renting a World War II Army uniform from the 1940s, showing up at his house for the occasion.