The message came in on our website from the caretaker for a vet. Richard Miller, a Vietnam vet, wrote to us about Joe Max Orr, a Navy veteran who’ll celebrate his 100th birthday this December 7. This will be his first birthday celebration since 1941, Pearl Harbor Day. On that day, Joe did not celebrate his birthday, but instead honored the fallen at Pearl Harbor.
The only child of Joe and Anna Orr, Joe Max Orr was born in Minnesota but grew up in Casper, Wyoming, where he met and married his wife, Natasha Goldfarb. He graduated with a degree in English from the University of Wyoming. Born in the first year of World War I, Joe served his country honorably in World War II, enlisting in the Navy a few days after Pearl Harbor.
Joe served in Italy and France until the end of the war, then in the Naval Reserves until 1955. And every year since 1941, on December 7th he’s honored the memory of fallen comrades and all those who died in the war.
Joe’s commitment to honor his comrades-in-arms can be seen in vets who’ve served since WWII right up to today, in young vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The experience of serving the nation marks our men and women who serve, in ways that are hard to understand for many civilians.
Coming home has never been easy for veterans, and in some ways it has been more difficult since Vietnam. Joe Max Orr’s personal day of memory exemplifies the deep personal commitment our vets make to us and to each other.
For Joe Orr, that’s 73 missed birthdays. A lifetime, really, of honoring veterans in a very personal way. This Pearl Harbor Day, let’s celebrate Joe Max Orr and all his veteran comrades. Join us in thanking him for his service, and especially for showing us what a lifelong commitment to honoring our vets looks like.
Here at the National Veterans Foundation, it’s what we’ve been doing for over 40 years. Our vet-to-vet crisis and information hotline is personal. If you know a vet or a military family that needs help, please pass along our Lifeline for Vets number: 888.777.4443
Happy Birthday, Joe!
You can wish Joe a Happy 100th Birthday and thank him for his service at his Facebook page.
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The worst part of war should not be coming home.