The most recent memorial erected in our nation's capital pays tribute to those men and women who served in the armed forces during the Second World War. The memorial is located on the mall west of the Lincoln memorial and east of the Washington Monument. A circle of stone columns represents the 50 states in bold relief. The columns surround a circular pool with water spouts and a center fountain. A pavilion representing the Pacific theater of operations stands opposite a second pavilion representing the Atlantic engagements.

There is also a panel of gold stars, 400 of them on the field, one for every 1000 men who lost their lives in World War II. Sixteen million soldiers were engaged in the war, and 400,000 lost their lives. The monument was constructed at a cost 197 million dollars. Sixteen million of that amount was supplied by the federal government, and $181 million was made possible through donations by individuals and corporations.

My brother-in-law Obe Farish who lives in Dothan, Alabama,, is retired from the military and is a VietNam veteran. He recently wrote to me about a trip he had made to our nation's capital to visit the new memorial to World War II veterans. He did not travel to Washington just to visit the memorial but to act as an escort for World War II veterans from his area of Alabama who wanted to view the memorial which had been dedicated on November 29, 2004. The monument is a reminder to the nation of the many sacrifices these men had made to reaffirm America's position in a free world.

What follows are some excerpts from my brother-in-law's letter, a letter which I found extremely interesting. He writes: "In 2000, I first learned about the effort of veterans and other interested people to build a memorial to those who had served in World War II. Several veterans had stationed themselves at a local WalMart to solicit donations to help build the memorial, and I thought it was a great idea.

"Being a veteran myself, I contributed to the cause. Four years later, I noticed in the local paper that the memorial had been completed and was being dedicated. It is amazing that sufficient funds were raised and the memorial built in such a short time. It usually takes many years to raise money for such a project when that project is not being financed by the government.

"Many World War II veterans had never seen the memorial which they had worked so hard to move from an idea to a reality. These veterans are dying at the rate of 1,500 per day. Dothan, Alabama, is located in what is known as the wiregrass area of Alabama. So, a local organization known as the 'Wiregrass Honor Flight Committee planned and sponsored a flight to Washington D.C. for local veterans of World War II who wanted to visit the memorial. The committee saw their work as just a token of the nation's esteem for the service and sacrifice of these men.

"Very quickly, the committee received applications from 150 World War II veterans who wanted to fly from Dothan to Washington to visit the memorial.

"Ninety veterans, along with volunteers and guardians, made up the first 'Wiregrass Honor Flight' on May 9, 2009. I was privileged to be on the flight as a guardian. What a privilege it was for me to support such an effort such as this.

I was assigned two veterans to assist on the flight and to escort around Washington for the day. Two gentlemen, both in their eighties, were my wards for the day.

"The flight left Dothan at 6:00 a.m. We landed in Washington, were met by three red, white and blue buses, and went straight to the World War II monument. There were lots of tears, especially when we were met by Senator Bob Dole who was our host for the day.

"Not only did we have two hours at the World War II monument; we visited the Iowa Jima monument, had a driving tour of the other monuments, and ended our visit with a visit to Arlington National cemetery where we witnessed the changing of the guard. I don't think there was a dry eye in the entire group. The buses returned us to the airport, and we were back in Dothan by 9:00 p.m. "During the flight to Washington, numerous stories about wartime experiences were shared. Names of famous battles were casually spoken, words that brought images of bravery and also of horror to mind: Normandy, Iowa Jima, Anzio, Battle of the Bugle, and Midway. Every branch of the military was represented on that flight. Each man spoke of his friends and comrades who did not return.

"Through the years since their days in the War, these men have lived with the grief of having lost friends and loved ones. Many have lived with what might be called 'survivor guilt.' They served honorably and returned home with a strong work ethic and unsurpassed strength of character. They raised families, loved their God and loved their country. They paid taxes, created businesses, and went to the polls and voted.

"Each of these individuals was changed by their experiences during wartime. There are no words to express adequately my appreciation for the experiences these brave men and women, and the families they left behind, made for all of us and our children. The true meaning of our nation is in the hearts and souls of these men who fought and suffered for our country to enjoy the freedoms we have today."

What a great idea to make it possible for these veterans to fly to Washington with escorts so they might have the opportunity to see what a grateful nation has erected in their honor.