By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — The local town has seen its fair share of hardships over the years, but it has always been proud of its military traditions.
Wayland American Legion stands as a beacon for the community of veterans who need someplace to go when they come home. The Veterans Appreciation Dinner on Nov. 14 was different this year with Covid-19 restrictions. It was take-out only dinners. However, three veterans were still honored for an impressive amount of service to the legion and country. Theodore Conrad awarded 75 years of service. Norbert Lang awarded 60 years of service. James Ruscitto awarded 50 years of service.
Perry-Native, Bill Loftus served in US Navy from 1987 to 91. He moved down to South Carolina. He has a mother who lives in Wayland. Upon checking on her he would come check out the Wayland American Legion.
“I have never gone to any other place in my life where people are more giving than right here in Wayland. They pitch in and volunteer with everything. I have never come into this legion without someone offering to buy me a beer. Friendship and community are what the legion is all about,” he said. “This legion is the only place I ever joined in my life. I was willing to dig out my papers and hand them to Charlie Brown (Kevin Mark) so I could become a member. I feel like part of the community. I used to call this place vacationland. I would bring my kids here and think this is the most beautiful place on the planet.”
Loftus said he never took anything since the United States military gave him much more.
“I looked at all the people who changed my life and decided how I wanted to live mine. I matured and recognized what I wanted to be in the military. I look back at my time in the Navy and think how lucky I am. I think you hurt yourself if you are not willing to do for others,” he said.
Post Commander Kevin Mark said he it was an honor to have one of the last World War Two Veterans remaining come to the dinner. He was glad to be able to honor WWII Veteran Theodore Conrad for 75 years of continued service.