World War II veterans needed for trip to D.C.

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011 12:50 PM
Last updated 7:18 PM
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Doug Hastings has made it his mission in life to see that as many WWII veterans as he can find go to Washington DC to see the WWII Memorial.   MICHAEL HOLAHAN/ STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/ STAFF
Doug Hastings has made it his mission in life to see that as many WWII veterans as he can find go to Washington DC to see the WWII Memorial.

The Greatest Generation soon will be gone, but not forgotten. With 1,200 to 1,500 World War II veterans dying each day across the nation, Doug Hastings is working to ensure the living don’t go without seeing the memorial to their fallen comrades in Washington, D.C.

“We have a very short time to make sure these people get to see the memorial built for their service and sacrifice,” said Hastings, the founder of the Vets to Washington Project.

“When we lose the World War II generation, we lose more than just a group of people, a group of veterans,” Hastings said. “We lose the character of this nation that came to the aid of the country when it was in its greatest time of need.”

For the past seven years, Hastings has organized bus trips for veterans living in Georgia and South Carolina to visit memorials in the nation’s capital. Two more trips this September and October still have seats available, and he needs the public’s help finding veterans in the Augusta area, where he says there are more than 700 living.

The best way to thank the Greatest Generation is a trip to see the National World War II Memorial, Hastings said. The privately sponsored trips are free for veterans, he said.

Of the 16 million men and women who served in World War II, fewer than 1 million are still living, Hastings said. A majority of the veterans will not be around to see the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in just five years, Hastings said.

“We have not forgotten their service, their sacrifice and the last 70 years of freedom they gave us,” he said.

Visiting the World War II memorial with other veterans creates a special trip, he said. On the bus ride, veterans who enter as strangers quickly become family by sharing stories and songs from their era, Hastings said. Many admit they have never verbalized their combat memories, even to their spouses.

“It’s being able to go with a group of combat veterans who know and understand what you’ve been through,” he said.

Hastings has taken more than 500 veterans to the World War II memorial, a privilege that touches him every time.

“It’s quiet for a few minutes because they are awed and amazed at the beauty of the memorial,” he said. “Without fail, the majority of them cry at one point or another.”

Do you know a World War II veteran in good health who would like to visit Washington, D.C.? Call Doug Hastings at (706) 832-6483 or visit www.vetstowashington.com.

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j-campbell
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j-campbell 08/30/11 - 12:20 pm
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If he will go to the weekly

If he will go to the weekly gathering of the Forest Hills Senior Men's Golf Association at Forest Hills Golf Course between 7:30 and 8:00 AM on Wednesday mornings, he will find a few of those wonderful guys, and they should know of more.

commonsense-is-endangere
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commonsense-is-endangere 08/30/11 - 07:38 pm
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They are fading away like the

They are fading away like the country they fought for.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 08/30/11 - 08:58 pm
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Thus us a great charity and

Thus us a great charity and God bless Mr. Hastings for organizing it.

Meg Mirshak
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Meg Mirshak 08/31/11 - 01:22 pm
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Thank you to the many people

Thank you to the many people who have responded to Doug's request for World War II veterans. As of 2 p.m., Doug received 70 phone calls and emails from 5 p.m. Tuesday. The September bus trip is full, and one seat is left for October as of 2 p.m. He has begun taking names for trips in the springtime.

Dugster82
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Dugster82 08/31/11 - 02:28 pm
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Thanks to all for the

Thanks to all for the response. I do have several more spaces for October and if the response continues as it has for the last 24 hours, I may even add a trip. Thanks again to all for the article, the responses, and the great comments. We also look for support team volunteers to serve snacks, beverages, and push wheelchairs and take pictures.

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