WASHINGTON, D.C. — Aptly named a “Voyage of Remembrance,” a bus trip to the nation’s capital last week took 28 Preble County veterans to visit the memorials built in their honor.
The busload of veterans, local dignitaries and chaperones left early Thursday morning, Sept. 21. It was the first such voyage hosted by Preble County Veteran Services since 2013.
It is the fifth trip in the last decade.
The tour included a visit to the Capitol building, a tour of all the memorials, a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, and more. The group left for home on Saturday, Sept. 23.
It is a journey they have earned and for many it will bring closure and peace, according to Veteran Services Officer Terry Pendergraft. Preble County Veteran Services plans trips such as this to show local veterans their sacrifices are appreciated.
The trip was a relaxed one, not rushed, and according to Pendergraft there were no major issues over the course of the three days. Pendergraft said he received a lot of compliments from many of the veterans – and many especially enjoyed the presentation of the wreath.
For trip organizers like Pendergraft, these veterans’ trips are well worth it.
“It’s for the satisfaction you get from the look in their eyes,” Pendergraft said of the moments the veterans share at the memorials, like the Vietnam War memorial wall. Or the feeling when a vet hugs you while crying because the wreath-laying ceremony touches his heart.
“It gives me a sense of pride,” Pendergraft said. “Respect – I gave them that moment in their lifetime.”
Many of the Vietnam War veterans never received that respect when they came home from war. Here, complete strangers shake their hands and say “thank you.”
“Those who have never seen the memorials, it really means a lot to them,” Pendergraft said.
“I enjoy making sure everyone I’m responsible for achieves that special moment we are down here for.”
For complete coverage of this trip, including special interviews and photographs, watch for a special Veterans Day section in The Register-Herald, in November.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH