WWII veterans on their way to visit WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.
State Sen. George Maziarz has announced that the day has finally arrived: the WNY Heroes trip flew today. Twenty-five World War II veterans from Western New York were flown to Washington, D.C., to visit the World War II Memorial and other area monuments and memorials. None of them had yet visited the memorial dedicated to the war they helped win.
The World War II Memorial was completed in 2004.
The nearly three-dozen World War II veterans are accompanied by a team of volunteer chaperones as they make their way around the nation's capital. In addition to the World War II Memorial, they will also see the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the "Changing of the Guard" ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, and more. They will have a boxed lunch at the World War II Memorial and a first-rate buffet dinner in Washington, D.C.
"It will be a long but rewarding day for everyone involved," said Maziarz, the trip's coordinator. "These brave veterans in our group served our nation proudly when we needed them the most. We owe a great deal to their generation, and this trip is just one small way of saying 'thank you.'"
The group flew out of the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport after a kick-off ceremony with Congressman Brian Higgins and the Sikora Post Honor Guard in the terminal lobby.
"This trip is completely free for the veterans," Maziarz added. "They have given enough. We want them to have a good time and enjoy this memorable experience. All of them are in their 80s or 90s, and this might be the only chance they have to see the World War II Memorial. We want to make it the opportunity of a lifetime."
Maziarz said that special praise must be given to the Walmart Foundation and Mulvey Construction for their donations to make the trip possible, the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce for their partnership in this event, to Health Systems Services for loaning wheelchairs, and to the staffs of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Transportation Security Administration and Southwest Airlines for their friendly cooperation.