Hundreds of people came out Sunday to remember the man who turned an idea into a movement.
“The young veterans today–the tears that roll down their cheek that someone would care enough to be there, and Bill led the charge,” said Galen Cole, a World War II veteran.
Bill Knight, who fought in World War II, will best be remembered by veterans for his tireless work as a Maine Troop Greeter.
“When you really know what someone’s going through it’s easier to do your job, and he really did a phenomenal job, a big smile and he enjoyed it,” said U.S. Representative Mike Michaud (D-Maine).
Through countless homecomings at Bangor International Airport…Knight was the first face that troops saw.
“Always was the first one in line to shake their hands, and that’s the symbol of the troop greeters is that handshake,” said Cheryl Lare, Community Relations Chair for the Maine Troop Greeters.
For those who knew Knight well, the Maine Troop Greeters would not be what they are today–without him.
“I’m not sure that the Troop Greeters would exist if it were not for Bill Knight. He did it and with a smile on his face and he was there consistently,” said Cole.
Jerry Mundy was featured with Knight in the documentary “The Way We Get By.”
“Everybody from the officers to the senior NCO’s to the lowest enlisted man–the youngest person–they were very grateful to see Bill there and the rest of the troop greeters–and he was an inspriation,” said Mundy.
The creators of that film say although Knight is no longer with us, the work he began lives on.
“His story continues. We just heard from some troop greeters who moved here from New Jersey because they saw the movie and wanted to be part of that experience and ended up becoming troop greeters here in Bangor,” said Gita Pullapilly, filmmaker and co-creator of “The Way We Get By.”
And for the people who came to pay their respects–the Troop Greeters, as a movement, is indeed Knight’s greatest legacy.
“They don’t make people like Bill anymore. He would tell us he never felt like he was doing anything outstanding. he was just doing the best that he could do,” said Aron Gaudet, who co-created the documentary.
“I loved my friend. my friend went away, the end’s as soft as it begins. I loved my friend,” said Mundy.