SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - The men and women who answered the call to fight in World War II are finally receiving a thank you for their service through the national memorial in Washington D.C. But as many southern Illinois veterans recently experienced, it's not the only memorial that brings back emotions of war.
It's a snap shot of the greatest generation, as 52 World War II veterans from central and southern Illinois pose of a picture, surrounded by a memorial to honor their service. Many in the group answered a call to duty as teenagers.
One of those was Robert Miljan from Benton. He served in the Navy and at the Navy Memorial takes a picture next to a statue of a Navy serviceman.
"It reminds me I carried that sea bag, my goodness, for almost two years and up down many Navy planks," Miljan said.
Meanwhile Alice Eubanks from Du Quoin looks at part of the Navy Memorial which honors her and the other WAVES of World War II.
"My sister joined a year later," Eubanks said. "My mother had no boys but both of us girls were in."
Eubanks worked as a dispatcher in a Navy Air station in Seattle, Washington for two and half years. The now 91-year-old says moments like this show their efforts long ago are still remembered today.
"They didn't forget," Eubanks said.
It's a sentiment shared by Howard Ritchie. At 18-years-old he joined the Navy and headed to the South Pacific. At the Lincoln Memorial he smiles for a picture with his daughter. Ritchie says this monument and others bring back emotions from his days of war.
"It makes you think about what we went through in the past, now to have a family member with you, is special," Ritchie said.
At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier a quite comes over the group of veterans. Many sit memorized by the precision and pageantry of the soldier guarding the tomb. For veteran Clell Keller, the constant vigil touches at the heart.
"I had a hard time keeping my own composure," Keller said.
It's a flight filled with emotion, honor and remembrance of the greatest generation and their sacrifice for the country.
To date Central Illinois Honor Flight has made 18 trips to Washington and helped 1000 World War II veterans see their memorial.
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