Veterans celebrate holiday with USO dance

<p>Revelers dance the night away during a USO celebration in Hermiston on Saturday.</p>

An old-fashioned United Service Organizations celebration returned to Hermiston on Saturday as veterans, their friends and families gathered at the Arc of Umatilla to honor those who have served in the nation’s armed forces.

Organized by members of the Inland Northwest Musicians and representatives of the Arc, the event included speeches, entertainment and dancing to music from the 1940s, including the hit song of the era, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” performed by a choir from the INM. INM Board Member Louis Carlson said it was important for people to remember what the USO did for service members.

“We wanted to showcase the USO because it was a very important part of the community,” Carlson said. “We wanted to bring it back to life. This building was where the original USO in Hermiston was located. We wanted to do something to celebrate that.”

The USO was formed in 1941 to provide service members with support in the form of entertainment, education and recreation away from the physical and emotional strains of serving abroad. The USO in Hermiston was built in 1941, and, Carlson said, stands largely unchanged from what it looked like before it was converted to the Arc. Carlson said although the USO closed its doors shortly after the cessation of hostilities during World War II, many people still associate the building as a place for those in the military to come and enjoy time away from the war.

“I didn’t get to serve. I wish I had,” Carlson said. “This place was a home for a lot of veterans and soldiers.”

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