Travel project honors vets

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We talk about what an “honor and a privilege” it is to do something. Well, last weekend brought about my true meaning of an “honor and a privilege” to do something.

My 86-year-old father and I traveled by bus to Washington, D.C., with the Vets to Washington Project. That bus contained precious cargo – veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam to tour the memorials dedicated to those who served this great nation in our times of war.

The Vets to Washington Project, a local group led by Doug Hastings, started with the goal to bring as many veterans to Washington as possible to view the war memorials dedicated to their service. Doug – himself a four-tour vet of Vietnam – joined several sponsors of his Vets to Washington Project to pay for the bus ride and two nights’ accommodations in D.C. Traveling with Doug was his support team of seven members – young men and women who voluntarily gave of their time to serve the vets. They assisted, cared for and helped us the entire three days. They are truly dedicated and wonderful young Americans!

We shared many poignant moments – such as the handwritten cards presented to several of the World War II vets from students thanking them for their service; the high-school band playing patriotic music; and, best of all, the four-minute standing ovation from a group of middle-school children from Pennsylvania – all to thank our veterans! It was refreshing to see so many young Americans know that, without this very brave group of men and women, life today would be very, very different.

For our entire time, Doug explained all the many wonderful sights. Our photos were taken in front of the National World War II Memorial and in front of the White House, and we shared a wonderful night tour of D.C. Our vets kept up with Doug the entire time, not wanting to return to our hotel until late Saturday night!

There were laughs, stories and, or course, many tears along the way.

I thought the Vets to Washington Project was a national group funded somewhere in our government. I was mistaken – the Vets to Washington Project is run on the shoulders of a man with a heart as big as could be for Augusta and Aiken veterans.

The Vets to Washington Project depends solely on donations to continue their goal of bringing veterans to Washington. Many veterans and others have “paid it forward,” paying for future groups to experience the thrill and emotions of seeing the Washington memorials to our war heroes.

The laughs, the stories, the tears, the hugs and the new friends made – it was my privilege and honor to share that weekend with American veterans.

Thank you, Doug Hastings; thank you, support team; and thank you Vets to Washington Project. God bless our veterans and God bless America!

Joyce Bethmann

Aiken, S.C.


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