The light rumble of thunder served as background to raucous applause and
piercing whistles that rose up from the parking lot of Central
Christian Church in South Beloit, Illinois., Thursday evening (May 20).
Road-weary veterans, 128 in all, climbed out of nine RVs and three
charter buses single file, of course, following their four-day journey
to Washington, D.C., to witness the World War II Veterans Memorial, a
story first announced on trailerlife.com in March “The Greatest Generation RV Trip.”
Their trip was sponsored by Finnegans’ RV Center Inc. in South Beloit.
Red and white lights bounced off their exuberant faces as two fire
trucks, with ladders extended, graced the entrance to the lot, an
American flag draped between them.
“Welcome home, soldier” was heard as the veterans made their way
out of the RVs, with “Mission Accomplished” signs pasted along the
Hundreds of people filled the parking lot of the Beloit church,
waiting patiently with their children and animals, some with blankets
wrapped around them.
Madeline Slater, 3, and Jenna Schomber, 9, hoisted a sign that
read “Welcome Home Nana and Pop.” They whirled around, hair whipping as
they ran between their parents’ legs.
“It’s past their bedtime,” Madeline’s mother, Megan Slater, said with a smile.
Zach and Marisa Franks stood patiently as their children,
Mandalyn, 6, and Zavier, 8, held signs with their cousins Azaria Martin,
8, and Aniya Martin, 6.
“They’re so excited,” Marisa said.
Even man’s best friend staked out a spot in the celebration. In
attendance was Circle of Change, which trains dogs for emotional support
for those who have suffered traumatic events. Londyn went on the
VetsRoll trip to serve as an emotional support dog, and trainer Pat
Muller was there to pick her up.
“Many of those vets suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome,
and one of our volunteers traveled on the trip with Londyn,” Muller
As the veterans slowly made their way inside to the Central
Christian Church gymnasium, each was handed a vibrant red carnation and a
pin that read “VetsRoll: Mission Accomplished.”
“Well, we made it all home in one piece,” Al Kath Jr. said.
“Seeing the memorial is something you will never visualize until you
actually see it, and its a wonderful memorial for all those people that
never came back.”
Kath recalled the 775-mile trip home, where children lined up over
some overpasses waving flags and hollering. It was a once in a lifetime
deal, he said.
His son, Richard, volunteered to drive one of the RVs, and once his father’s wheelchair was settled he took a step back.
“They held up pretty well,” he said with a smile.
Harison Teague stood in a daze, looking around the gym filled with
people. A young woman approached him, asking to take a photo with him.
He gladly threw his arm over her shoulder, adjusted his Marines hat and
waited for the camera flash.
“When you’re at my age, you get tired easily,” he said as he made
his way to his seat. He tipped his hat back and smiled, waiting for the
reception to begin.
Story courtesy of RV Business.