Experience of a Lifetime
The American Warriors Day of Honor
This Memorial Day weekend I had the honor of assisting a WWII Veteran around Washington DC to see the National WWII memorial and four other memorials. It was a truly humbling experience.
The American Warriors are a group of volunteers who raise money to get WWII Vets to the memorial in DC as well as raising awareness for veterans programs. Check them out. American Warriors. They organize a flight for about one hundred vets (twice a year), with four busses, team leaders, guardians and helpers. Over the five years that AW has been doing this, the number of needed wheel chairs per flight has gone from 30 to 60%, meaning more and more helpers are needed on each flight. That is where I came in.
I was given the opportunity to travel to DC to meet the flight when it arrived, connect with a veteran and spend the day wheeling him around and keeping him company. I took the train from CT to DC, stayed in a hotel and joined about 150 other folks in welcoming these vets (between the ages of 86-99) as they got off the plane. A brass band, kids with signs, active service members, airport staff, and folks just waiting for other flights were there to cheer as these guys landed. Once it was “wheels down” it was a busy day of getting them situated on a bus, taking head counts, spreading the sun block, passing out water and getting to know each other while we trekked to five amazing memorials.
|This is Stan at the wall honoring those |
who were lost in WWII.
|Here is our group of Vets inside the WWII Memorial.|
We were there on Saturday of the holiday weekend. On Sunday there was to be the Rolling Thunder motorcycle event. A ride of over half a million bikers, to bring awareness to the needs of Veterans. So, when we were going from place to place, it was mobbed with bikers as well as families and it was absolutely amazing to see how folks reacted to these WWII vets. People of all ages were coming up to Stan and the other vets to thank them for their service, shake their hands, give hugs and even take their pictures with them. Marines that approached Stan seem to have a special bond with him that was beyond my understanding. It was so special to see. A mother walked up and shook Stan’s hand and then had her two children walk up shake his hand and thank him. It was great to see parents teaching their children to respect these men.
So after a very long, HOT and emotionally draining day we brought theses Heroes back to the Airport. This is where I left Stan with a hug and a kiss and a promise to send pictures from the day. But for Stan the day was not over. He still had thank you letters to read on the way home written by school children then to be greeted by family, friends and patriots when he landed at Bradley International. I have had the privilege of being at the airport when they land last fall, talk about amazing.
|2 of the 17 statues at the Koran War Memorial|
|Our Vets at the Iwo Jima Memorial|