NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In a sea of thousands at Yankee Stadium on a spectacular Memorial Day – there was a special, lifelong baseball lover who had also served his country in the stands.
“Thank you for your service,” fellow fans said, thanking him over and over again on Monday.
“I went to war for four years and I’m one of the lucky ones to be here today,” World War II veteran Louis Forte said.
Forte knows he’s fortunate to be in good health and good hands; surrounded by family at 104-years-old.
“It’s a very big day here and we’re lucky at 104 plus – he’s working on 105 – to have him with us and be able to come to Yankee Stadium,” Dorothy Forte-Rotolo, the veteran’s daughter said.
“I can’t think of anything better. At this age, it’s wonderful,” Forte told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
Louis told CBS2 he remembers going to the old Yankees Stadium as a 12-year-old kid, sitting in the bleachers, and watching his favorite team play. Back in those days it only cost him for 25 cents to buy a ticket.
On Monday, wearing his U.S. Army Air Corps cap, the Westchester County native got to experience the game in a way he never imagined.
Forte became the oldest veteran honored on the diamond during the 7th inning stretch – a Yankee Stadium tradition.
Fans clearly recognizing the freedom he fought for in the 1940s, gave the 104-year-old a thunderous cheer.
It was a proud moment for his adoring children and grandchildren.
“It’s amazing. I always wanted to see him on the field… It will be a memory forever,” his daughter added.
In the midst of this new memory, Forte became emotional. He may not talk about the war much, but today and every day, he wants us to pause for the friends he lost along the way.
“People that gave us the freedom we have today. We lost a lot of young men… That’s the ones we should remember,” Forte said.
A sentiment of sacrifice that cannot be forgotten.