Birthday celebration held for 97-year-old WWII veteran
A birthday celebration was held in Freeport Thursday for a 97-year-old World War II veteran.
The Rev. Dr. Eugene Purvis is one of the last remaining African American World War II veterans in the country, and has lived a life full of accomplishments. He served for three years as part of the 435th Aviation Squadron, which is a unit of African Americans within the 20th Army Air Corps.
The reverend says he believes he's lived this long because of his beliefs and not holding on to anger.
"Today I am 97 years old. I believe I have lived this long because of my obedience," says Purvis. "I have been obedient to even my captors. I been obedient to those who didn't wish me well."
Purvis says he was fighting two wars - World War II and race discrimination. He says he dealt with it in a mature manor and didn't hold any grudges.
"I was an officer in the church and that helped me to deal with the problem of segregation in the military," he says.
Purvis and his wife, Sylvia Purvis, have lived in Freeport for nearly 50 years and have always served their community, including establishing a Montessori school inside their home.
Purvis was recently was chosen to be the grand marshal of the 2020 Memorial Day parade, but it was canceled due to the coronavirus.
Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy, Assemblywoman Judy Griffith and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham were also in attendance.