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North Carolina World War II Veterans Honored in Washington

North Carolina World War II Veterans Honored in Washington
North Carolina World War II Veterans Honored in Washington

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November 11 is Veteran's Day, a day when veterans of the armed forces are honored and remembered for their service and sacrifice. An aging group of veterans from the U.S. state of North Carolina, came to Washington D.C., on a pilgrimage to honor their fallen comrades.    

The airplane carrying more than 100 World War II Veterans arrived in Washington right on schedule.

There was a celebration to honor these men known as the "greatest generation" for their service and sacrifice during World War II.

It was an outpouring of admiration and appreciation for these veterans from North Carolina.

They came to the nation's capital as guests of Rotary International. Their ultimate destination; the World War II Memorial.

"A memorial like this was a long time coming," Harley Affeldt says. "It should have been built many years ago."

The Memorial, which opened in 2004 on the national mall, honors the service and sacrifice of the 16 million Americans who served, fought and died during World War II.   

These men who saw war have never seen the memorial dedicated to their service.  
Some were greeted by former US Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole, who was wounded and decorated three times for his heroism during the allied campaign to liberate Italy.

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Amid the beauty of the waterfalls and plaques some of the veterans reflected and remembered.

"It is very very emotional," Affeldt says. "I have already seen some of the men with tears in their eyes. "

Others took pictures and shared war stories from their youth.

"I was shot and a German artillery shell exploded and I had several pieces of shrapnel in me," Bennie Fletcher explains.

"I landed in the second wave on Omaha Beach on D-day," Jimmy Ciccarello says.

Among those taking part were US Senator Richard Burr and his father David from North Carolina.

"This is an opportunity for individuals who served over 60 years ago," Senator Burr says, "many never talked about what they did or where they were, to bond with people who did exactly the same thing and who never questioned what they were asked to do."

88-year-old Earl Hucks and 90-year-old Brantley were two of five brothers who served during War World II. 

"Veterans day is a day I will never forget," he says, "and it means a whole lot to me."

For many of these veterans who are in their 80's and 90's now, this may be the very last trip they make to Washington. But they say the memories they take away from this trip will last for the rest of their lives.

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