ROSLYN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — As the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches, Long Islanders will honor heroes who fought in the war.
Ninety-four-year-old hero veteran Gilbert Blum, of Roslyn, is poised to help honor and commemorate the anniversary.
“It is such a defining moment in American history,” he told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Memories still remain vivid. Sgt. Blum and his platoon steamrolled across Europe in Sherman tanks to confront the Nazi threat.
“The first vehicle that I ever drove was a 30-ton Sherman tank,” Blum said.
Now a great-grandfather, Blum was just 18 years old then, filled with passion and bravery he didn’t know he possessed.
“I joined because of Hitler,” he said.
As countries were swallowed by the enemy Nazis, America’s troops believed in each other.
“We created a military from farmers, clerks, teachers, high school kids,” Blum said.
Those emotions of standing together will be played out in a virtual ceremony at the Museum of American Armor on Long Island.
Museum organizers say they cannot allow the pandemic to prevent New Yorkers from paying proper tribute to an entire generation that saved the world from a dark and murderous fate.
“Vanquished by strategy, by optimism and by a real can-do spirit, and at a great cost,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
“I did not speak with my parents, I was 18 years old, for 17 months,” Blum said.
During that time, Blum’s platoon helped liberate a concentration camp near Nordhausen, Germany.
“It was such an incredible relief,” he said.
Then word filtered through of Hitler’s suicide in his bunker.
“That was the time to celebrate,” Blum said.
Blum, ever humble, refused the Purple Heart for a combat injury because he said he didn’t feel worthy, his wounds weren’t deep enough.
Nassau County will livestream Saturday’s museum observance in Old Bethpage. Blum will be among the speakers.
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