Days away from celebrating his 101st birthday, some memories are still crystal clear for Bill Cooper.
He still thinks about his time fighting under General George S. Patton in the Third Army during the Battle of the Bulge.
He still thinks about Sergeant Sid Bohm, under whom Cooper served in France as part of the 94th Infantry Unity. They were ordered to dig in, literally, carving four-foot-deep holes into the earth, where they’d live for four months.
The Rochester man has made an annual Veterans Day ritual for the past 25 years to join the surviving local contingent of World War II soldiers who served at The Bulge. When Cooper first attended, 99 men and women were recognized.
At the Port of Rochester Monday, that number will be four. It will be the last time the event will be held.
"We will fold up our flags after Monday and head off into the night," said Jack Foy, the organizer of the Charlotte event. He will also be honored and in attendance at the salute.
Bill Cooper will be honored again, but he will not stand with his fellow veterans.
Cooper is receiving hospice treatment and will not be able to travel to the event.
"I'm here. And I'm one of the lucky ones," Cooper said. "I never forget for a day all of those who did not come back."
Visiting Nurse Services honored Cooper with a certificate and an American flag blanket at Highland Hospital. His family and friends gathered for in a waiting room for pictures. Cooper was brought to tears a second time Thursday when he mentioned his late wife as part of prayer that was recited during the intimate ceremony.
"Veterans Day means quite a bit," Cooper said, "because everybody here might not be here."