WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES
WASHINGTON – Hundreds gathered at the terminal gate cheering and waving as more than 60 World War II veterans from Fayetteville, Ga., arrived at Ronald Reagan National Airport here today as part of an Honor Flight visiting the World War II Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.
Some walked, some rolled in wheelchairs, but all of the veterans were honored as throngs of friends, family, current servicemembers and total strangers walked up to them to shake their hands and thank them for their service and sacrifice.
“Today is the culmination of a lot of work,” said Gail Sparrow, president of the Fayette Honor Flight. “The community certainly has stepped up to the plate to make sure these vets come.”
While hundreds of aging WWII veterans die each day across the nation, many of them never get to see the memorial built to honor them.
The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization funded through donations and staffed by volunteers who make it their mission to get those men and women to the capital to see the historic monument.
The Fayetteville chapter has flown seven flights of veterans over the past three years. The flight today will be the last for the chapter, explained Sparrow, noting the ailing health conditions of many of the veterans. The chapter has, however, already flown nearly all of the veterans in the area to the memorial.
On his first flight to see the memorial, John L. Adams was taken aback by the warm reception and the sight of the flowing fountains and wreathed towers. “It’s awesome,” he remarked, holding back a well of emotion. “For what I’ve seen, I’m very grateful.”
Spirits were high as the former Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen made their way around the monument site, fulfilling what will be a once in a lifetime experience for most of them. “We’re here to re-up!” one veteran told an active-duty Soldier accompanying the tour.
Fond memories and tales of war were shared as the veterans sat and reflected in front of the fountain. Through it all, these modest heroes were humbled by the kindness of a community willing to give a little back to those who gave so much. “I’ve enjoyed every second of it,” Adams said with a smile.
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This work, Honor Flight takes veterans to WWII National Memorial, by SSG Shawn Miller, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.