WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Dozens of World War II veterans and more than a dozen volunteers gathered at the district office of state Sen. Greg Ball’s (R, C, I – Patterson) early Tuesday morning to board buses and travel to visit the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The trip was organized by Ball, Heroes in Transition and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 21.
Veterans from: Brewster, Buchanan, Chatham, Cortlandt, Hopewell Junction, Lewisboro, Mahopac, Mount Pleasant, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Ossining, Patterson, Pawling, Peekskill, Pleasantville, Poughquag, Pound Ridge, Somers, Verplanck and Yorktown Heights all attended the trip.
“According to the Veteran’s Administration, our World War II veterans are dying at a rate of 600 per day," said Ball in a prepared statement. "These brave men and women gave so much to fight for our nation’s safety and freedom and it is my honor to give them an opportunity to see the national memorial that was created in honor of their service.
"When I first announced this trip, I pledged to do it at no cost for the veterans that attend. I am so happy to see that so many community members and small businesses really stepped up to the plate and helped make this trip possible."
U.S. Congressmen Chris Gibson and Sean Patrick Maloney greeted the veterans as they arrived at the memorial.
“I am honored to be a part of this ceremony for our country's Greatest Generation," said Gibson (R-19) in a prepared statement. "Their courage and sacrifice were truly remarkable. his trip is just a small way to mark their tremendous contributions to our country, and it is their work that allows us to gather in our nation's capital, at the WWII Memorial that was erected in their honor.”
“As a son of a Navy veteran, it is a tremendous honor to welcome these American heroes to our nation’s capital, where their service is remembered at the World War II Memorial," said Maloney (D-18) in a prepared statement. "We can never fully repay our veterans, but whether we’re cutting through red tape to get our veterans the benefits they've earned or simply pausing for a moment to thank them for their service, we must never stop honoring the brave men and women who sacrificed so much in defense of our freedom.”
When the two charted buses filled with the veterans arrived at the memorial, they were greeted by cheering volunteers. The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard also performed an official wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial. After the ceremony, the veterans went to Bolling Air Force Base where they watched a drill demonstration and musical ceremony.
The trip was made possible by dozens of donations from community members and local businesses, including a $2,500 donation from the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters and an entire breakfast sponsored by ShopRite of Cortlandt Manor. Other businesses that donated food and services included FirstLight Homecare, Bucci's Deli, Sauro’s Deli, Patterson Deli, Competitive Telecoms Group, Putnam County Hospital and Dante’s Deli II.
“It is an honor and privilege to be able to help the men and women of the WWII that made America what it is,” said Yorktown Councilman Terrence Murphy in a prepared statement. “These veterans deserve a lot more then what they are getting. It's about time this country puts these veterans in the forefront and honors each and every one of them.”