Nearly 100-Year-Old WWII Veteran Spoke At Lake Wales Veteran’s Day Lunch
by James Coulter
Julien McCall will be turning 100 years old soon. He is a retired Captain who served in World War II. While he was honored to have served his country during the war, he knows full well the horrors such a war brought to the world. As such, he hopes and prays that a similar world war never again comes into fruition. However, he fears with current political and national strife the possibility of a civil war.
“I would recommend that we never again get involved in a world war,” McCall said. “Nobody wins. Everybody loses. You gain nothing. Unfortunately, we may have some more civil wars with the way the political scene is developing in the United States. I hope it is not here in this country. But we have to be careful.”
McCall still feels proud having served his country as a veteran, and he joined his fellow veterans in celebrating their victory, as well as joined local civilians to honor their contribution in defending the country.
“I wish you all great happiness and success,” he told his fellow veterans. “It is still a wonderful country.”
McCall was one of many veterans who attended the Veteran’s Lunch hosted at Dyer Chevrolet in Lake Wales on Wednesday. He served as one of several guest speakers who spoke on behalf of the sacrifice made by veterans such as himself.
Mayor Eugene Fultz served in the military for 24 years: four years in the Navy during the Vietnam War, and 20 years in the Army National Guard during Desert Storm. He attended the event dressed in his army uniform.
He owes his success as a local politician to his time within the service. His military experience allowed him to gain the discipline that he has since applied to his role as the city mayor. Moreover, his service allowed him to contribute to what he considers to be the cornerstone of the nation.
“To all of the veterans out there, keep your head up high, be proud of who you are, and be proud of the service that you rendered to this country,” Fultz said. “I pray that everybody will recognize you for the heroes that you are.”
Kathryn “Kat” Gates-Skipper served in the Marines for nearly 20 years. She now serves as a local veteran’s advocate, and previously served as a national advocate for the “Veterans ForTrump” campaign.
As a local Lake Wales resident, she was honored to attend the event with her family and fellow veterans. She was honored to speak a few words on their behalf and express her gratitude for being able to serve her country faithfully.
“It means everything in the world to me,” she said. “I am a proud American veteran who served my country…I want everyone to honor our veterans who served past, present, and future.”
David Dlugokecki, General Manager for Dyer Chrysler Chevrolet Lake Wales, hosted the event at his dealership to show his support for local veterans. The event was hosted in partnership with American Legion Post 71 and All Veterans Center, Icn. What started as a simple gesture to offer a free meal to veterans had since grown into a full-blown celebration with an all-veterans band and guest veteran speakers.
One of his staff members was a Marine veteran. David’s own father served in Vietnam and was buried in Bushnell Cemetery following his death in 2002. David had since spoken with many of his father’s veterans’ friends and learned through their experience how little their efforts often go unrecognized. For that and many other reasons, he decided to honor local veterans with a lunch at his dealership.
“We are hoping to let the people know that we are in Lake Wales and we care,” he said. “Today is not about selling cars. It is not about car deals. This is a day to celebrate the veterans, they deserve this, and this is what we are here for. I would like to thank the Lake Wales community to do the things we do and become a big part in helping the people out and share what we can and give back.”