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On Island Profile: Cyril Barnes

May 24, 2009 — Cyril A. Barnes, at 98 the oldest World War II veteran and American Legion member in the territory, doesn't march in local military parades anymore. But he has his opinions about the current military situation in Iraq and the president who gave the troops their marching orders.
"My marching days are over because of bad knees, so I get dropped off at the end of the parade and sit in the bandstand," Barnes says. His hearing is bad, too, so he doesn't hear the music of the Crucian Brass band as well as he used to.
The bespectacled man's eyes aren't what they used to be, either, but he says he loves to read the daily paper's editorial and opinion section with the help of a magnifying glass.
He has kept up and formed his own opinion's about current events. He bluntly says that all the soldiers who died in Iraq shouldn't be dead.
"There wasn't any evidence of weapons of mass destruction — we have no business being there," Barnes says. "I think George W. Bush is a disgrace. He stole the election because the ballots in Florida were spoiled."
Barnes can be seen reading the paper that a neighbor gave him on his porch at Pepper Tree Terrace, where he still lives on his own. Carmine Rivera, a neighbor, says he is out on his porch by 7:30 a.m. greeting and chatting with neighbors. Neighbors help him with errands such as banking, shopping, paperwork and laundry, and they take him to church.
"Mr. Barnes is very well-liked and we help him with whatever he needs," Rivera says. In fact, he gave his phone to Rivera to set up the Source interview and wanted her present at the interview.
The slight man has the hearty hand clasp of a much younger man.
"I had a checkup a month ago and everything is all right," Barnes says. "I gotta pretend that I feel all right."
When asked why he thinks he has lived to his age, he attributes it to living a clean life and a good, honest life.
Barnes has outlived his five children and his wife, Gerda Ford, who he married in 1929. He has grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren, but he doesn't know how many.
Barnes was born Dec. 22, 1910, and grew up in Christiansted, where he enjoyed horseback riding and going to the beach. He moved to New York City when he was 15. On his birthday in 1943 he got greetings from Uncle Sam saying he was selected to serve in the military. He joined the Navy and was a fireman first class, serving on ships in San Diego. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and went back to New York, where he met his wife, worked as an elevator operator at Mount Sinai Hospital and then worked as a U.S. postal clerk until retirement in 1977.
Barnes moved back to St. Croix in 1979 because it would always be his home, he says.
"I love it here — this is where I was born," Barnes says.
He is still waiting on his marching orders.
"There must be something the Lord still wants me to do before I leave," Barnes says.
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May 24, 2009 -- Cyril A. Barnes, at 98 the oldest World War II veteran and American Legion member in the territory, doesn't march in local military parades anymore. But he has his opinions about the current military situation in Iraq and the president who gave the troops their marching orders.
"My marching days are over because of bad knees, so I get dropped off at the end of the parade and sit in the bandstand," Barnes says. His hearing is bad, too, so he doesn't hear the music of the Crucian Brass band as well as he used to.
The bespectacled man's eyes aren't what they used to be, either, but he says he loves to read the daily paper's editorial and opinion section with the help of a magnifying glass.
He has kept up and formed his own opinion's about current events. He bluntly says that all the soldiers who died in Iraq shouldn't be dead.
"There wasn't any evidence of weapons of mass destruction -- we have no business being there," Barnes says. "I think George W. Bush is a disgrace. He stole the election because the ballots in Florida were spoiled."
Barnes can be seen reading the paper that a neighbor gave him on his porch at Pepper Tree Terrace, where he still lives on his own. Carmine Rivera, a neighbor, says he is out on his porch by 7:30 a.m. greeting and chatting with neighbors. Neighbors help him with errands such as banking, shopping, paperwork and laundry, and they take him to church.
"Mr. Barnes is very well-liked and we help him with whatever he needs," Rivera says. In fact, he gave his phone to Rivera to set up the Source interview and wanted her present at the interview.
The slight man has the hearty hand clasp of a much younger man.
"I had a checkup a month ago and everything is all right," Barnes says. "I gotta pretend that I feel all right."
When asked why he thinks he has lived to his age, he attributes it to living a clean life and a good, honest life.
Barnes has outlived his five children and his wife, Gerda Ford, who he married in 1929. He has grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren, but he doesn't know how many.
Barnes was born Dec. 22, 1910, and grew up in Christiansted, where he enjoyed horseback riding and going to the beach. He moved to New York City when he was 15. On his birthday in 1943 he got greetings from Uncle Sam saying he was selected to serve in the military. He joined the Navy and was a fireman first class, serving on ships in San Diego. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and went back to New York, where he met his wife, worked as an elevator operator at Mount Sinai Hospital and then worked as a U.S. postal clerk until retirement in 1977.
Barnes moved back to St. Croix in 1979 because it would always be his home, he says.
"I love it here -- this is where I was born," Barnes says.
He is still waiting on his marching orders.
"There must be something the Lord still wants me to do before I leave," Barnes says.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.