June 4, 2013
Updated Jun 4, 2013 at 6:49 PM CST
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than 16 million members of the Armed Forces served in World War II, yet many will never see the national memorial in their honor.
During an emotional day trip, more than 80 area veterans visited the World War II memorial and others as the Greater Peoria Honor Flight made its inaugural trip.
When the group arrived at the memorial, they were greeted by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, (D) 16th District, Former Congressman Bob Michael and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood who all wanted to come out and say 'thank you' to the veterans from the Peoria Area.
"This is a great event, it is the first opportunity for them to come to Washington, D.C. and be honored,” said LaHood. “To be at the World War II memorial, we have a spectacular day here in D.C. and the important thing is that they are being honored for their service. So Bob Michael and I are here to welcome them and congratulate them for not only serving their country, but their community."
There are 81 veterans, who made the trip from Peoria; 35 of them are 95 years or older.
Nora Neman,89, falls just short of that mark but the nurse, who served in the Philippines in WWII, says she was moved the second she got off the bus at the memorial.
"Those little kids got out of school to welcome us,” said Neman. “I hope they realized what was going on, probably, but they were so precious. Little bitty kids clapping for us, that was special."
This isn't the only memorial the veterans will see during their jam packed day at the nation's capitol.
There will be trips to the Korean and Vietnam memorials as well along with a trip to Arlington Cemetery to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Congressman Aaaron Schock greeted the Honor Flight group at the Vietnam Memorial.
The veterans will return from their trip tonight, the public is invited to welcome them back at the Peoria International Airport.
You are asked to meet at the CEFCU parking lot between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. where a shuttle will take you to the greeting area.
Josh Simon WEEK WHOI was along for the ride. Photos from throughout the day are posted on his facebook fan page.