Welcome Home, World War II Veterans
I will warn you in advance of scrolling down to the photos that they are not my best work. The sun was streaming through the concourse windows straight at me when I shot them. I had to move fast to capture shots in a small space as the group moved past me. My low battery light was blinking angrily at me. And, I am still the greenest of amateurs, especially under these circumstances.
With that caveat clearly stated, I hope you will read on…
While waiting for my v-e-r-y delayed flight home, an announcement rang over the loudspeaker in Terminal 4. “The World War II Veterans arriving from their visit to Washington DC will be arriving shortly at gate D7. You will recognize them by their yellow shirts. Please stand to greet them.” It was then that I turned around and noticed for the first time the young color guards holding the United States and Arizona flags and the young soldier in his dress blues.
You might recall from past posts that I spent roughly half of my childhood growing up in Western Europe or my deep love of Normandy, France. With that experience and passion comes a deep appreciation for The Greatest Generation. After standing at Pointe du Hoc and looking out at the now calm seas of Normandy, attending a Memorial Day service at the American Cemetary in Margraten, visiting Anne Frank’s House, and standing on the grounds of the Dachau concentration camp, among other things, being around any WWII veteran nearly brings me to tears.
And so as I tried to hold back the flood gates in my eyes, I stood in humble awe at the roughly 20 men and one woman who walked through the door of gate D7. Honor Flight Arizona is a non-profit organization that transports WWII veterans to Washington DC to be honored at their memorials. As Memorial Day dawns, I can’t help but think of the 10,000 young men (and handful of women) who gave their young lives on D-Day. I can’t help but think of the many other solidiers and civilians who suffered and died around the globe during the course of World War II. I am forever grateful to their sacrifice and feel very honored to have been temporarily graced by the presence of a few of the veterans who helped change the course of history.
Veteran Photo #1. The WWII veterans deplane and chat with family members and others who met them at their gate.
Veteran Photo #2. The veterans gather behind the color guards and walk through the gate to the baggage claim. Some of the veterans were in wheel chairs, and some used walkers, but many of them were as spry as these gentlemen.
Veteran Photo #3. One of the Honor Flight volunteers meets the veterans with a sign. (I’m sorry that this one is SUPER blurry, but it was the best shot I have of one of the volunteers and signs.)
On a related note, I loved this post by fellow photoblogger, Joanna, earlier this month on the Dutch National Remembrance Day.
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The Greatest Generation! Pfft! What did they really do? Survived the Great Depression, fought World War II, led us through the darkest hours of the Cold War and into outer space. Really, how does that compare to the Ipod and overindulged consumerism?
Seriosly though, I always place people who hold these folks in high regard directly into my heart. My scout leader, oh so long ago, was a medic in the 82nd Airborne and made the jump into Normandy. My Great Uncle Bud was a navigator/radioman on a B-25, my uncle Ernie was a United States Marine in the Pacific who suffered from WWII nightmares til the day he died, and the list goes on.
Thank you for appreciating their great sacrifice. I’ll never forget.
Damn it, now you made me cry.
Randy, thanks for reading my post and sharing your thoughts. I, too, will never forget. Now go get a tissue…
Done, moved on to dinner.
I don’t believe in coincidences. I rather think you were meant to be delayed so you could capture this moment for the rest of us! Thanks for sharing. Lovely post and photos.
I love the thought, Sofia. Thanks so much for reading my post and sharing. It was an amazing experience just to be in their presence.
I read a stat that 1,500 WWII veterans are dying daily across the US. Our time to thank those that changed the course of history is quickly drawing to a close.
Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful photos with us. I have the utmost respect for these veterans, and never more so than after I joined by son’s school in 2010 on a trip to The Netherlands to celebrate the 65th anniversary of VE Day. We also visited Anne Franks house, marched in a Liberation Day parade and took part in a 5km silent march to a Canadian War Cemetery. That trip had a huge impact on my life, and I was moved to tears each and every day thinking of what the soldiers endured in order to guarantee our freedom!! I will never forget the veterans marching in the parade, some walking proudly, others in wheelchairs, but all with smiles on their faces and their heads held high. It was an incredible experience!!
Loony, what an amazing experience! I got to take my 13-year-old son to Europe for the first time this past Fall. It is a dream of mine to get over there one-on-one with each of my kids before they go off to college and he’s the oldest (by 22 minutes). The last time I was at Anne Frank’s house, I was his age. I was not prepared for the depth of emotion I would feel walking through the museum and memorial not as a 13-year-old child myself, but as the mother of a 13-year-old child. I almost couldn’t do it.
Despite all of my travels to Normandy, both as a child and as an adult, I hadn’t spent as much time at the landing beaches commanded by Candian and British troops until this last visit with my son. I appreciated the more global view that perspective gave us of ALL the nations who sacrificed their solidiers and worked together to turn against Hitler and his forces.
Thanks so much for reading this post and sharing your story!
You’re welcome and thank you for sharing yours 🙂