A hero's welcome. Generations of thanks. These men come to the nation's capitol thanks to Honor Flight, a program to bring WWII vets to see "their monument" for the first time.
One service member commands a crowd -- William E. Lee. Ninety-four years young, he is the oldest vet in the group from greater St. Louis. He remembers the war clearly.
"They left us...the house where I was... in the basement," Lee said. "Otherwise, I'd be dead 'cause they'd throw a grenade down there and kill ya."
He spent his 37 campaigns with the Big Red One 1st Infantry Division, and he lost a lot of friends.
"Even my lieutenant. He said to me, 'You missed being captured by 10 minutes.' And I'm glad I did," Lee said.
Lee's wartime bravery earned him the color guard flag. Randy Saladin says he's glad his father-in-law made the flight to D.C.
"He backed out once, so thankfully we were able to get him here today," Saladin said. "And I think it'll be one of the greateast days of his life."
Saladin calls these veterans honored here at the memorial "the greatest generation." Had they not won the second World War, he says the USA would not be the same country it is today.
Lee was able to make the trip to D.C. through the Honor Flights program. The non-profit was started in 2005, and transports our nation's veterans to Washington, D.C. for free to visit their memorials. Top priority is given to WWII survivors like Lee. You can read more about this program by clicking this link: http://www.honorflight.org/