Veterans honored at WWII Memorial

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It took about 30 minutes for the two busloads of veterans to unload at the World War II Memorial in Washington April 24 - but no one complained. Most of the veterans who arrived from Puget Sound, Wash., were helped into wheelchairs by volunteers, but some walked unassisted to the event that would honor their service to their country.

Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries senior Grant Tabler sang "The Star Spangled Banner," and junior Myles Sherman played taps. Both were chosen by Anita McCaskey, a John Paul parent and Honor Flight volunteer to honor the men and women with a patriotic welcome.

"It's great to be here and meet all the veterans," said Sherman, adding that it was an honor to play taps at the ceremony.

"These are some of America's greatest heroes, and it's great that they are here to see such a monument in their honor." said Tabler.

It was an early start with the veterans leaving a hotel at BWI Airport for a 9 a.m. arrival in Washington. They were greeted with clear skies and cool weather.

The veterans were assisted through a receiving line of volunteers and tourists who applauded and shook each veteran's hand, thanking them for their service and sacrifice.

The veterans gathered at the memorial's central fountain facing the Washington Monument as three members of the Manassas Young Marines presented the American flag.

A wreath of flowers was placed near an empty wheelchair as a tribute to their comrades who have passed away.

Tabler began the ceremony with "The Star Spangled Banner," followed by Sherman's taps. The veterans saluted during both.

When the ceremony concluded, volunteers helped the veterans around the monument stopping for photos in front of their state name carved into the monument's stone walls.

Jay Geisel, a 95-year-old Navy veteran, commented on the ceremony in what many think as the matter-of-fact attitude of members of the "Greatest Generation."

"The ceremony was more than appropriate and well-handled," he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016