There was no room for candles on George Perry’s cake when family, friends, Congressman John Faso, and members of the Sharon Springs American Legion turned out Saturday to help the World War II and D-Day veteran mark a milestone he never expected to reach:
His 100th birthday.
Born in Nyack in 1917, Mr. Perry joined the Army in April 1945 and did his basic training at Fort Rucker, Alabama before catching a ship to Japan, where he was involved in the occupation, supervising Japanese laborers, that October.
One of his fondest memories is of seeing General Douglas McArthur in Tokyo; he was discharged after his father died in September 1946 and finished his enlistment stateside in Louisiana.
Calling Mr. Perry part “a living link to the past,” Congressman Faso spoke to the stories he heard from his parents, growing up, about WWII’s impact on everyone.
“Men and women left their jobs, their families, to defend our country,” he said. “The whole country mobilized for democracy. So many never came back. We owe them all a tremendous debt.”
Mr. Perry and his wife of 72 years, Doris, live in the Sharon Springs Spring Meadow Apartments, where friends, many of who turned out for Saturday’s celebration at the Cherry Valley Community Center, shared stories of his love of card playing, fishing, and the outdoors.
Though Mr. Perry’s birthday isn’t until November 22, the party was held Saturday so more of his family—which includes five children, 11 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandson—could be on hand.
Mr. Perry is an honorary member of Sharon Springs American Legion Post 1269, which helped with the celebration and has honored Mr. Perry in the past.
Representing the Village of Sharon Springs, Trustee Patty Johnstone thanked Mr. Perry for his service and longevity.
Sharon Supervisor Sandra Manko read a proclamation from the town, also thanking Mr. Perry, and calling him a “quiet and humble man.”
“We are proud to claim him as one of Sharon’s finest,” she said. “Our lives are better because of the dedication of people like him.”
As a civilian, Mr. Perry was a supervisor at the Orangeburg Pipe Factory and a schoolbus driver.
He quietly enjoyed the day’s attention and congratulations, offering one wish of his own:
“All of us, politicians, too, we need to work for peace so there’s no need for war,” he said.