Veterans take part in second Greater Peoria Honor Flight

By Beau Ebenezer

September 25, 2013 Updated Sep 25, 2013 at 8:49 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Dozens of central Illinois war veterans got to see what their sacrifices really meant with an up-close look of several memorials at our nation's capitol.

The second Greater Peoria Honor Flight was an emotional trip for many.

"Everybody is just thanking me and shaking my hand. It is just wonderful," said World War II Veteran Doris Dikeman.

For the 72 veterans the Greater Peoria Honor Flight was one final mission.

The mission... be honored at the nation's capitol for their efforts in ensuring America's freedom.

The tour stopped at the Iwo Jima and the Marine Memorial. The veterans also had a chance to see the World War II Memorial along with the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials.

The Honor Flight was free of charge for veterans.

While every veteran had a guardian of their own helping them along the trip, one pair shares a different kind of bond when it comes to serving our country.

"it makes me have a lot of pride. It makes me proud to be an American. There is just a lot of pride here," said World War II Veteran Ralph Pagan.

"A lot of pride" is what 90-year-old Ralph Pagan has.

He is a World War II veteran, who was a part of the corps of engineers that built and destroyed bridges.

His guardian for the trip was his son who is a Vietnam War veteran.

While this was their first time seeing the memorials up-close, they both know what their fight for freedom meant.

"This is the first time I've been to the one in Washington D.C. It is hard to keep one's emotions in check. I've lost a few friends, my brother-in-law lost his baby brother. I found him on the wall, so it is pretty touching," said Vietnam War Veteran Dan Pagan.

The trip was made possible by $80,000 in private donations.

After seeing all of the monuments alongside his father, Dan Pagan said the trip really made him remember what he fought for many years ago.

"It kind of grabs you because when you put the three together you see the real price of freedom," Pagan said.

For more information on the Greater Peoria Honor Flight click on the link above.

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