WASHINGTON DC – Photographs from earlier days help veterans take a walk down memory lane, but for former soldiers like George Thomas, nothing will beat seeing the World War II Memorial up close.
“I had two friends who were killed during WWII,” he says. “And I'll be looking for their names.”
Thomas is going to Washington as part of Honor Flight, a nationwide program giving aging veterans a chance to see monuments for the wars they so bravely fought.
But during the government shutdown, this group from Mississippi had to break through roadblocks just to visit the World War II Memorial.
There were protests earlier in the week, but finally overnight the barricades came down.
“Now those won't be there and that will be nice, so we'll be able to get off the bus and roll straight in to the memorial,” says member Dana Rivera.
They'll go to the Memorial with park police escorts, who are back to work.
Loved ones who've flown in for the special day are also welcome again.
“What better tribute do you have now that somebody who lived out of town has come and joined you at your memorial,” Rivera says. “That's what we're recognizing. They're not called the greatest generation for nothing.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs was concerned it wouldn't be able to pay benefits if the government was closed through the end of month, but that program isn't in jeopardy anymore.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond