WWII veterans see memorials in Washington during the 2011 Rough Rider Honor FlightWASHINGTON, D.C. — Edwin Fahlsing looked like a celebrity at the World War II memorial.
By: Amy Dalrymple , The Dickinson Press
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Edwin Fahlsing looked like a celebrity at the World War II memorial.
The Army veteran originally from Lisbon found himself surrounded Saturday by teenage boys who wanted to shake his hand and pose for photos with him.
“They were proud to be with me, and I was proud to have them,” said Fahlsing, a former Army paratrooper who participated in the North Dakota Rough Rider Honor Flight.
Everywhere the 124 veterans went on Saturday, strangers waved, took off their hats and said, “Thank you.”
The first stop Saturday was the World War II Memorial, which few had visited before.
“I think it’s more than what I expected,” said Vernon Lemke, a Navy veteran originally from Mott.
James Hancock, a Pearl Harbor survivor, had tears in his eyes as he described how it felt to be at the memorial.
“It’s nice. It’s a beautiful place,” Hancock said. “It’s just sad to realize what it represents, that’s all.”
Bill Zabilka, an Army Air Corps veteran from Fargo, was impressed with the memorial.
“They could not have done any better,” Zabilka said. “It’s the tops.”
For Terri Schwartz of Harwood, the memorial was meaningful because she was there with the veterans.
“It was awe-inspiring to see the living legacies walking around the memorial,” said Schwartz, who is escorting a Fargo veteran. “These are the people it was built for.”
As the group arrived at the visitor center of Arlington National Cemetery, dozens of middle school children from Wisconsin broke into applause.
“They deserve to be honored,” said 12-year-old Hannah Francis. “I even got a picture of one.”
The veterans also visited the Iwo Jima Memorial on Saturday and went on a driving tour of Washington.
They departed for Bismarck Saturday night.
Throughout the two-day trip, veterans shared stories with each other about their war experiences.
“I’ve talked to several of these old goats and I said I’d do it over again,” said Tom Knapp of Lisbon. “They agreed with me.”
Dalrymple is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.