Don’t forget that the reason you’re off work on Monday is because of Memorial Day!!
I come from a family of soldiers. My father was a Navy coreman in Vietnam, my uncle and father-in-law were in the Air Force and served in Vietnam, my little cousin is in the National Guard, and my grandfather was career Army and was in WWII, Korea (were he spent 3 years as a POW), and Vietnam. I couldn’t be more proud of any of them. My grandfather has, among many other decorations, 3 purple hearts and 2 silver stars (which is just second-highest award you can get, besides the Medal of Honor). Needless to say, I don’t take this holiday lightly. The men and women who have sacrificed themselves for the well-being of American lives deserve this day of remembrance, but they also deserve our constant honor and respect. If you see a Veteran or member of military while you’re out and about this weekend, just stop and say thanks! Doesn’t matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on, we can all agree that these people are heroes.
Two weeks ago I had the absolute honor and privilege of being a Guardian on an Honor Flight trip. Honor Flight is an organization that flies WWII veterans up to Washington DC for the day so they can see their memorial, which wasn’t completed until 2004—60 years after the war ended. I spent the whole day listening to the incredible stories that my Veterans told me. Mr. Thompson was an Navy engineer on a destroyer in the Pacific, who also shot down NINE kamikazes. Mr. Crumley was also in the Navy and served in the Pacific. He was the soldier who ferried other soldiers from the ship to the shore. It’s a miracle he survived because those men who did that were often unarmed and basically sitting ducks. Again, needless to say, they were amazing men who did amazing things that I can’t even fathom in this day and age. Here’s a few pictures of this unforgettable day.
If you have a friend or family member who is a WWII Veteran and would like to participate on this trip, please check out the Honor Flight website. My mother-in-law, Pam Nichols, is the co-director of the Birmingham chapter, and I’m so proud of her. She has given up countless hours of time and energy for this worthwhile cause. Way to go Pam!
Upon arriving at the Baltimore Airport, about 30 active duty military were there to greet the veterans. Here are Mr. Thompson and Mr. Crumley, and then there’s me, crying my eyes out.
There were a lot of tourist at the memorial that day, despite the rain. At one point a Japanese tourist walked up to Mr. Crumley, shook his hand, and thanked him for everything he did and told him he was a hero. I think it left us both a little speechless! A few minutes after that this boy asked Mr. Thompson for his autograph!
Amy and Pam with Congressman Davis, part of the group shot that showed the 104 veterans who participated that day. Once they got lined up in front of the Alabama pillar, every tourist there clapped and whistled for them. It was so, so cool
Me and my awesome Veterans at the memorial…
The WWII Memorial is nestled in the middle of the Washington Mall, right between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. It has two pillars on each end: the Atlantic and Pacific, each with pools in front of them that have the major battles of each theater carved into them. Along each side are 56 pillars, one for each state and territory that assisted in the war effort. The bottom photo shows the wall of stars, where there are over 400 gold stars, each representing 1,000 fallen soldiers.
We also went the Iwo Jima Memorial, and being the granddaughter of a man who served in the Pacific, I loved this. They say that there are 6 soldiers in this statue, but there are 13 hands: one extra representing the hand of God. Around the monument is the name of every major battle and war America has ever fought, starting with the American Revolution. The detail on this is unbelievable. The inscription says “Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue.” How awesome is that? It’s awesome.
When we got back to Birmingham, there was a huge welcoming party for them. The families of the veterans were all there waving flags and holding posters. A military color guard was there, as well as a bag pipest. It was overwhelming for me, and I can’t imagine what the veterans must have been thinking. I’m so glad that they could have this day that was for them and no one else. They deserve so much more, but I’m so glad that Honor Flight is in place so they can see how much their sacrifice means to us all!