NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A ceremony aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on Monday honored those who put service before self — both the ones who died and those still living.
102-year-old World War II airman Richard Cole helped lay a wreath aboard the aircraft carrier.
He says he wants the younger generations to remember one simple thing.
“The key to the whole thing is freedom,” Cole said. “If you don’t work toward freedom you’re working for somebody else, and that’s not good.”
Cole is the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, the 80 men who made the first airstrike on Tokyo after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and sparked America’s entry into the war.
“Today is a very, very important day,” said Cole. “It’s a national memorial to remember people that have given their lives.”
Cole was one of several ceremonial wreath layers, which included dozens of others who served on board the Intrepid, inspiring local Navy service member Anisha Wellington from Brooklyn to enlist.
“They have paved a way for us and our family and for every American here so we can be free,” she said.
Wellington brought her two daughters to understand the importance of the day and her career.
“I want them to know exactly why mommy wakes up so early in the morning and comes back so late at night and sometimes miss birthdays and stuff like that,” she said. “It’s very important for them to understand what I’m doing out here.”