Monday, June 28, 2010

Great visit with Dad & Mom Z.

We had a great time with Dan's folks here!! They flew in on Thurs. June 3rd &  we started off right away with a tour of the White House at 7:30 A.M. the morning after they got here!! Mom said it was well worth it!!

Since we got done so early, we of course stopped off at Starbuck's before heading up to the Capitol for a tour as well as a visit to the Library of Congress. Both of which were firsts for Dad & Mom.

On Sat. we decided to take them on a ride through the countryside, and since we had enjoyed Middleburg so much we made a short stop there. We did do something different while we were in the area though, there are alot of wineries around Middleburg, so why not?? Let's stop for a wine tasting!! Chrysalis winery is a good size winery and they had some delicious wine, one which we decided to buy & bring home with us! From there we went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant; Clydes at Willow Creek! YUM!!!

Sunday we thought we better take a day off, but on Monday found us back in DC exploring a new area down the hill from Georgetown called, Washington Harbor. We had lunch at one of the restaurants along the Potomac River, then took a short boat ride.

Afterwards we headed in to see the Old Post Office Pavilion built in 1899, which has a 315 foot tower with 360 degree views of the city. The tower also houses the Official United States Bells of Congress, a bicentennial gift from England celebrating the end of the Revolutionary War. The Washington Ringing Society sounds the Bells every Thursday evening and on special occasions.

We made a quick stop on the way out of DC to see a statue we have been wanting to stop at, the Albert Einstein statue! 

Monday night, Dan had to leave to fly to New Orleans for an International Safety Conference, so on Tues. Dad, Mom & I decided to go to one of the big malls in the area for lunch & a little shopping.

We had a wonderful time together & of course it went way to fast, but we were SO thankful they were able to make it out here one more time!!
Thanks, Dad & Mom!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Memorial Sunday BBQ

Despite all our adventures in exploring the area, sometimes we do things at home.  Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend, after church, we hosted our home group for an afternoon barbecue.  We have great friends in the Lord from Clear River Community Church, and we had a wonderful time.

Barbara Finity, Elizabeth Kraft, and Annie Daknis gather around the serving table.

It was a hot day, so staying in the shade was the first order of business.  The Jenkins, Henry's, and Kerry Kraft hang out by the fence (l), while the Trujillos, Tracy Darling, Nathan Kraft, Bob Calvillo and the Vandemark's gather under a tree.

Hope, Andrew, Bob and Bryan brave the sun while they play a spirited round of bocce ball in the front.

Later in the day the shade allowed us to congregate on the deck.  The brats, burgers, fruits, salads and cold drinks were great, but the friendships made the day.  They stayed until almost 6 PM, and what a fun time we all had! 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Honor Flight Guardians - Part 2

Picking up where we left off, after a good visit at the WWII memorial, the six-bus convoy went to Arlington National Cemetery where lunch was waiting for all of us in the "Women in War" memorial building.  From there we moved to the Tombs of the Unknown Soldier to take in the solemn changing of the guard.

Notice some of the vets and guardians in the background.  This was a very touching moment for many of them.

Then we were off to the Marine Corp Memorial, more famously known as the Iwo Jima Memorial ....

where again there was another ceremony.  We are all gathered at the base of the statue while the Honor Flight leaders and Ft. Meade airmen conduct a memorial service to those from Alabama who died on Iwo Jima.

And then honored these men in the group who fought and survived there.

John and the others observed the ceremony with rapt attention.

The airmen were really great with the vets all day, helping out, encouraging, showing appreciation.  Here they take a photo with one of our vets (l) and stand at attention as we leave in the buses (r).  Some of our vets on board saluted back.  It was quite touching.

With one stop left we were taken to the Korean War Memorial/Lincoln Memorial/Viet Nam Memorial area. Here John and I pose for a picture together .... do Barb and Marvin.

After that, we loaded the buses one more time for the trip back to Reagan National Airport, where we accompanied our vets to the gate.  As we waited for the boarding call, we were entertained by a dance group performing 1940s style routines, right there in the walkway by the gate.  Eventually came the sad moment when we had to say goodbye to Marvin and John for their return to Huntsville. 

Much has been said and written, by many so much more eloquent that we are, about the generation that fought, and won, World War II.  They were heroic.  The greatest generation they are called.  Grandpa and Dad, they were also.  In school, we learned about the war as a matter of history.  But these days we find that we having a growing appreciation for what our fore bearers did for us, from the Revolution to WWII. There is little we can do to repay them, but it was a complete and humbling honor for us to be a part of this day and give just this little bit back.

John and Marvin, if you are out there reading this, THANK YOU.  Thank you for your service so that we can have what we have today.  And thank you for letting us be blessed by helping you experience the remembrances that Washington DC has to offer.  

And to all our veterans - THANK YOU ALL! 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Honor Flight Guardians - Part 1

Memorial Day weekend gave us a special chance to honor our veterans and remember those who gave their lives for us.  We were Honor Flight Guardians. You may remember from an earlier post (Nov 14, 2008) we first wrote about Honor Flight.  This organization arranges to bring WWII veterans to Washington DC, at no cost to the veteran, to see the WWII Memorials here.  With these veterans dying at a rate of about 1,200 per day, time is running out for them to see the Memorials of their heroic sacrifice.  To learn more about Honor Flight, click HERE

Anyway, there are a lot of logistics planning and support needed to pull off such an event.  Once the plane load of vets arrive in DC, they need people to accompany them throughout the day, to help them get around, assist in their needs, etc.  Boeing has committed in the past to provide volunteers for Honor Flight missions, as was the case for Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.  As soon as we learned about it, we jumped at the chance to help out.

Our Honor Flight brought 99 vets from the Tennessee Valley near Huntsville, Alabama.  They arrived at Reagan National Airport around 10 AM, where the Boeing volunteers met them at the gate.


We were all provided standard issue Honor Flight Guardian t-shirts, both front and back calling out our affiliation for the day.

As the plane rolled up to the ramp, the ground crew waved the stars and stripes, and the military service flags, to greet our vets (r).  Inside at the gate, crowds awaited their arrival, including a brass band playing 1940's era big band and military music.

As the vets came off the plane, hundreds of people greeted them with applause and handshakes.  It was not just those of us who were serving as guardians that day.  The USAir gate agent made a general announcement a few minutes ahead of time to invite anyone in the area to come join the welcome party, and many did.  Over and over, people told the vets "thank you for your service!".  As they emerged, one by one we guardians connected with the vets we would accompany all day. 

With 99 vets came the escorting team from Honor Flight, including a traveling team of officials and a medical team of 6-8 people.  Add to that all the local guardians and we filled six motor coach buses for the transportation around town.  First stop was the WWII Memorial.

Dan (l) stands with his veteran, John (c), and Barb's veteran Marvin (r).

The morning began with a flag ceremony honoring those from the Tennessee Valley area who had given their lives.  Airman from Fort Meade in Maryland perform the ceremony (l) as the veterans and hundreds of onlookers watch.  In the right picture, John (with camera next to the guy in the red hat) and Marvin (center just behind the guy in the sunglasses) observe the ceremony.

The solemn-ness of the ceremony was evident in the response of some of the vets and onlookers alike.  This set the tone for the day.

Marvin with a fellow vet (l) and John (r) pose in front of the World War II memorial.

Barb poses with John and Marvin.  She is holding a picture of her dad, also a WWII vet who hadn't made it to the memorial, until today.

These men really enjoyed walking around the memorial.  Almost constantly, strangers, tourists, young and old came up to thank these men for their service.  It was moving and humbling to be a part of this and see them honored.

After this the motorcade moved on to other locations.  We will pick up where we left off in the next report.