SHERIDAN - Having spent more than a century on this earth, World War II veteran Raymond "Sam" Weber was all smiles and words of wisdom Wednesday at a celebration in his honor.
The 105-year-old veteran seemed overwhelmed but touched as his fellow veterans thanked him for his service and his sacrifices.
St. Columban's on the Lake was filled with the sound of music and applause as 35 veterans from all over Chautauqua County came to salute a hero.
OBSERVER Photo by Jasmine Willis
Brocton American Legion Post 434 Vice County Commander Henry Link (right) presents WWII veteran Sam Weber with a certificate of honor and the American flag.
Brocton American Legion Post 434 Vice County Commander Henry Link had a chance to speak with Weber on Monday.
"It was the best hour I spent all year long," he said. "Sam had so many good stories to tell me."
Link opened up the honorary celebration with words of admiration.
"I have a new hero in life," he said. "When I get to be 105 I want to have as good an outlook as Sam Weber."
Dunkirk Joint Veterans Council Chaplain Sandy Tapasto recited the opening prayer, with a warm reflection expressed at the end.
"What a wonderful life you must have lived," she commented. "You have enjoyed 38,325 glorious sunrises, and enjoyed the same number of beautiful sunsets," she continued. "You have had an equal number of starlit skies to gaze at in wonder."
Sam Weber was born Dec. 6, 1908 and joined the New York National Guard in 1928. After hearing about his brother-in-law being shot down in Germany, Weber joined the U.S. Armed Forces in 1944. He was 36.
Dunkirk Memorial Post 62 Commander Butch Piglowski honored Weber with a life membership for WWII vets in Dunkirk.
"For the Greatest Generation," Piglowski said. "Thank you, Sam, for all your service - this club is here for you. God bless you, Sir."
Chautauqua County American Legion Post 62 County Commander Craig Sutton bestowed on Weber an initiation into the club, an American Flag, and a Certificate of Honor.
"This is a very important day for veterans and Sam," Sutton noted.
Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency Director Gary Chilcott said it was a "distinct pleasure" to meet Weber.
"You are an inspiration to all of us," Chilcott said. "All the veterans in Chautauqua County would like to thank you for your service."
While Weber was being showered with many well-deserved gifts from his fellow veterans, he spoke of his own privilege to be among them.
"It is a great honor to belong to such a group of guys," Weber said. "Any guy who puts their life on the line for their country - may God bless them all."
When Weber was asked about the secret of his long life, he replied with what his mother always said.
"My mother, God rest her soul, always said to do everything in this world in moderation - and keep breathing," he answered.
When Weber was asked about his faith, he replied to just believe in God.
"You can believe in any faith, go to any church, and no matter what church you go to just believe in God," he answered.
"I do a lot of praying, maybe a lot of people do too," he continued. "God put you on earth to enjoy it, so enjoy the world, love everyone and don't be mad at anyone."
St. Columban's on the Lake Administrator Sister Corona Colleary deemed this week "Sam Weber Week" and said she looks forward to his birthday celebration every year.
Weber ended the celebration with his own note of thanks.
"I appreciate everything you all have done for me," he said.
St. Columban's Wellness Coordinator Tami Jo Smith said Weber has always been good to her.
"He has been with us since March 25, 2004 and I have known Sam since he got here," she said.
Smith said everyone loves Sam.
"He loves to tell stories and smile at everyone, he still has a great sense of humor," she said. "He is very honest and very funny."
Smith went on to say that "everyone has been showering Sam with lots of TLC" this week.
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