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WWII Veteran celebrates Memorial Day with song

Posted at 6:48 PM, May 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-28 19:55:56-04

TULSA -- A 94-year old World War II Veteran produced and played in a concert in honor of Memorial Day.

Joe Wilkinson has been involved at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame on the holiday for more than five years. He plays the piano and signs.

Wilkinson said he chose songs that were popular back in the early 1900s and also classic patriotic songs. 

He started playing the piano when he was 12-years old. 

Wilkinson enlisted in the U.S. Army while living in Tulsa. 

He said while he was in the Philippines, he was asked to play in the band in the officers tent. He ended up playing bass for Bob Hope at about three locations overseas. 

The veteran remembers the music providing a relief for the troops. 

"It takes you back," Wilkinson said. "There is no question. I got overseas and back with not a scratch. That's just extraordinary." 

He plans to continue the concerts until his hands will no longer let him. The 94-year old has Arthritis but said his hands have adapted to playing around it. 

Wilkinson's favorite part of the Memorial Day program is seeing the veterans and active service members stand when their branch of the military is called.

"It seems such a pleasure to see the guys stand," Wilkinson said. "We'll call them out and say, 'It's time for the Army to stand.' Of course, the attrition rate has taken place. Instead of 50 or 25, it may only be 20 [veterans] this year." 

The concert was free for active service members and veterans. 

 

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