Volunteers laid out poster-sized replicas of U.S. Army and Air Force badges on the carpet of the ballroom floor as they prepared to decorate for a Saturday evening dance.
Musician and former Mayor Ray Stone, who was setting up for his band, stopped in his tracks.
“That’s my company,” he said, pointing down at the back-to-back A’s of the 82nd Airborne Division “All American” insignia.
“I even know the song,” he said. With a little encouragement, he sang a few lines.
“We are the sons of liberty,” he crooned, forming his arms into wings and zipping between the banquet tables.
The decorating at The Coeur d’Alene Resort began early Saturday afternoon for the night’s Veterans Day Dance, sponsored by the non-profit Adult Generation Enterprises.
Veterans also were remembered Saturday morning in a ceremony at Coeur d’Alene’s Veterans Memorial Park. A color guard and rifle squad organized by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars marked the anniversary of armistice that ended World War I on Nov. 11, at 11 a.m., in 1918.
Amid the gaiety of the Veterans Day dance, the sacrifices of service men and women were remembered with a collection of memorabilia.
The poster-sized replicas of the military patches, painted by North Idaho College students, served as the dance hall’s wall decorations.
Along one wall, volunteers carefully displayed uniforms, medals and posters from the four armed services.
Individuals and organizations donated the items. Some posters and uniforms came from the Fairchild Air Force Base museum. The items covered nearly all the wars since World War I.
On one table lay the wool dress uniform of a U.S. Marine captain. Camouflage Army fatigues from the Korean War draped another table.
“You know he was in combat,” said retired U.S. Navy officer Robert Hunt, pointing to a Kentucky rifle patch on the fatigues. “You only get this by having been in combat. He also was airborne qualified.”
George Gould, vice president of AGE and a Vietnam veteran, set up a mannequin on Saturday. Its bald head brought back Gould’s memory of a trip to the barber to have reluctant draftees’ heads shaved.
“Some of them had hair down between their shoulder blades and some of them actually cried.”
Proud memories promised to mix with music Saturday night. Stone’s band was set to play all big-band tunes from the World War II era, songs such as “In the Mood” and “Satin Doll.”
“We wanted it to be like the big-band era where there was a large dance floor and lots of people dancing,” said organizer Robin Bevis.
Bevis and other organizers wanted a large crowd not only to honor war veterans but to raise money for Meals on Wheels, which delivers hot meals to homebound seniors.
“My first interest was to help the elderly,” said Gould. “And veterans. Too many of them feel they’ve been forgotten.”
Gould and other organizers of the dance said they want the dance and fund-raiser to continue annually.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo