My mother and I recently brought my niece to visit Washington D.C.. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the World War II Memorial. This National Memorial honors the 16 million who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II, the more than 400,000 who died and all who supported the war effort from home. It is a beautiful Memorial and humbling to see, set in stone, the major battles that my grandfather and great uncles fought across both Europe and the Pacific.
The Memorial is layed out in a circle with two pavillons on the North and South commemorating the war in the Pacific and the war in Europe. The pavillons are flanked by wreathed pillars representing each of the 56 states and territories of the U.S. as of 1945.
On the West side of the Memorial, the Freedom Wall marks the price of freedom. The wall displays the Field of Stars where 4,048 gold stars each represent 100 lives lost during the war. Famous quotes from Eisenhower and bas relief depicting typical war scenes really make visiting the memorial a moving experience.
One very surprising and emotional moment for me was actually on my flight home from Washington. When the plane for our flight arrived at the gate, 45 World War II veterans from Minnesota disembarked. The group was coming to DC as part of the Honor Flight Network, a non-profit that flies veterans to D.C. in order to visit the World War II Memorial.
The entire Delta terminal surrounded the gate in order to welcome the veterans and thank them for their service. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the entire terminal. These men were truly surprised and humbled to have so many people around to greet them. It was the least we could do to thank them for everything they have done and have been through. Seeing all those World War II veterans made me a bit sad that none of my veteran relatives are still around to see the Memorial for themselves.