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America's Oldest Veteran Richard Overton Gets Standing Ovation from Obama

Reuters /Kevin Lamarque /Landov
Richard Overton, the oldest living veteran of World War II, receives a standing ovation after U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to him today during a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

America’s oldest living World War II veteran lives in Austin. And today, he was the guest of honor for a very notable host: President Barack Obama.

Today wasn’t the first time 107-year-old Richard Overton made the trek to Washington D.C. For this May’s Armed Forces Day, Overton was part of an Honor Flight to the nation’s capital. Nonprofit group Honor Flight Austin flies World War II veterans to D.C. to show them the national memorial built in their honor.

As USA Today reports, when Overton visited the capital this spring, he expressed a wish to meet President Barack Obama. “The president was out of town that day,” the paper writes, but Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s office facilitated a return visit to D.C. this weekend. And this time, Overton’s request came true.

This morning, Overton participated in a breakfast with the president and vice-president honoring American veterans. Later, he attended the President’s speech at Arlington National Cemetery – where he was the subject of President Obama’s remarks.

“Earlier this year, the great folks at Honor Flight Austin brought Richard to Washington D.C. for the first time,” Obama said:

“And he and his fellow veterans paid their respects at the World War II memorial. And then they visited the memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. And as Richard sat in a wheelchair beneath that great marble statue, he wept. And the crowd that gathered around him wept too – to see one of the oldest living veterans of World War II bear witness to a day, to the progress of a nation he though might never come.”

With that, the crowd – including the President – broke into applause for Overton. Here's a portion of the President's remarks: 

KUT spoke with Overton last month, when he received an honor of a different sort: his 1945 East Austin home was renovated by a team of volunteers. “I appreciate it, every bit of it,” he told KUT. 

And as for meeting with the President? Overton told USA Today “I'd talk about (how) we're proud to have him. I wish him good luck all the way through. We have to pray for him. We have to pray for him and help him because we all need help." Watch a brief video interview with Overton from USA Today here.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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