On May 29th, 2014, 10 WWII veterans packed their bags and boarded planes to Washington, DC. This would be the first and possibly the only time any of these amazing veterans would see the memorial created in their honor. Without their sacrifices and courageous service during a time of need, many of us would not enjoy the freedoms we do today. Many of the veterans on this trip were drafted and served because it was their duty—never once complaining or expecting any recognition when they returned home. Journey of Heroes, the collaboration between the Vital Life Foundation and Wish of a Lifetime, made sure that these veterans knew just how thankful we all are for their service.
That morning at Port of Portland, friends, family, active military personnel and the Patriot Guard Riders met the group of veterans. There wasn’t a dry eye in sight as the supporters on hand sent our veterans off on the trip of a lifetime. While in Washington DC, the group enjoyed 2 days touring the historical sites of our Nation’s Capital. On May 30th at 10am local time, each veteran laid eyes on the WWII Memorial; erected in honor of their courageous service. The group was given a private tour of the memorial, and Friends of the National WWII Memorial, a local nonprofit whose mission is to preserve the legacy of these heroes, interviewed each veteran. At every turn, someone at the memorial, young or old, would stop to hug and thank each vet individually. Following the WWII memorial, the group finished the day touring the Korean Memorial and Vietnam Memorial. The next day, the group was given a private tour of the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA, which is home to numerous military aircraft spanning over 100 years of aviation. Following the Hazy Center the group toured Arlington National Cemetery and witnessed the Changing of the Guard as well as paid their respects to those who lost their lives serving our country.
The trip concluded on June 1st when everyone returned home. Without the overwhelming support of the Vital Life Foundation, this Journey of Heroes would have never been possible. The lasting impact that this trip will have on not only the veterans, but also their companions can’t be measured in thank yous or tears shed. It is something they will cherish for the rest of their lives.