Burnie Sutter is a World War II veteran who celebrated his 100th birthday this month. On Saturday, his community of Frisco, Texas came together to celebrate this landmark birthday with a 100-car parade.
“What’s it like being 100 years old?” Sandi Sutter Richards asked her father recently. “You said I’m an old…,”
“Old fart,” he said as they both laughed.
WTSP reported that during his time fighting in the war, Sutter was nicknamed “Smiley” by his fellow servicemen because of how often he smiled. He was a machine gunner in the 358th M Company who landed on Utah Beach in Normandy with the 90th Infantry Division under General George S. Patton.
Sutter fought in many of the major battles across France and Germany, including the battles at Seves Island and Falaise Gap. On top for that, the veteran was part of Operation Cobra and the Moselle River Crossing, and he helped liberate Flossenburg Concentration Camp near the Czechoslovakian border in 1945.
Sadly, at 100 years of age, Sutter is starting to lose the memories he has of his incredible life.
“I tell people who want to talk to him that I’m his memory now,” his daughter said. “He’s been my hero for a long time. Because I’ve known his story for a long time. I just think somebody has to keep the story going.”
The community of Frisco came together one Saturday this month to help Richards keep that story going. Sutter sat outside of Saddle Brook Memory Care, where he resides, to watch the parade the included vintage vehicles, restored WWII Jeeps, and even a decorated golf cart or two.
Sutter waved to and saluted the vehicles as his three grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren sat with him watching the parade. At one point, an airplane provided by the Frisco non-profit Families of WWII Veterans even flew overhead with a banner that read, “Happy 100th Burnie – WWII Hero.” The non-profit then announced that it was establishing an annual $2,500 scholarship in Sutter’s name that will go to a deserving student who is heading for college.
“My father was a WWII veteran too,” said Families of WWII Veterans founder Barbara Fasola. “We just want to honor heroes like Burnie any way we can.”
For Richards, the day was a touching one that she will never forget.
“I’m just trying to keep as much of his memory alive as possible,” she said as she thanked all those who took part in the parade. “I am just extremely proud of him, even though he’s not always in the moment anymore, but I am and our family is. I just think we need to pass that along to our children what these people were able to do to save our freedoms that we have today.”
In the end, Richards learned from her community with this parade that she is not carrying her father’s memories alone.
“I have to say I thought I was the only one tooting the horn for a long time,” she said. “Now I see there are a lot of others out there.”
This piece originally appeared in UpliftingToday.com and is used by permission.
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