There was something noticeably different about Reagan National Airport on Saturday, September 19th. Outside, it was an absolutely gorgeous fall day in DC with the sun shining as brightly as it possibly could. But the sun, in all of its glory, was not the brightest part of this memorable Saturday; not even close. Inside of the “A” terminal, at gate 9, the red, white and blue balloons and streamers were hung. A three piece band, assembled behind the check-in desk, played one proud patriotic song after another, including the official song for each branch of the U.S. military. Nearly a hundred people of all walks of life gathered around the jet way, excitedly cheering and clapping, waving American flags, and anxiously awaiting their arrival.
But who were they? Who could possibly deserve such dramatic fanfare on a Saturday morning at DCA? Maybe Colin Powell and Bill Clinton decided to take a commercial flight into DC just for kicks? Nope. Way Better. These people, volunteers, airport employees, passengers and even U.S. Senators, were there to welcome a group of absolutely tremendous American heroes. They were all here to welcome almost 400 heroes to the home of their very own memorial. The one they fought for. The one their friends gave their lives for. After almost 65 years, these World War II veterans were getting the chance to see America’s ever-lasting symbol of recognition of their service, dedication and ultimate sacrifices.