I woke up at 2:30am to get ready to accompany Mr. William Brandy to Washington, D.C. Mr. Brady, who told me to call him Bill, served during the Korean War in the Marine Corps. Bill was very modest about his service. He would say he did what he had to do until it was time to go back home. Bill’s father was in the Navy and so was Bill’s brother. Bill’s father dedicated 20+ years in to our military before he retired.
This was my first time going to D.C. so Bill was excited to show me the sites. He had this proud look on his face when he said,” You maybe my guardian for today, but I am the one who knows the city”. He would tell people throughout the trip that he was my tour guide.
All of the memorials and monuments were so beautiful. If you have never been to D.C. let me tell you the pictures do not do it justice. I was really touched by two memorials in particular. The first was the 1993 Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project. Oftentimes women are forgotten. It was nice that the women could be recognized not just as nurses but also as soldiers. I have relatives who fought in Vietnam, so it was a very proud moment for me.
The second memorial that touched me was the Lincoln Memorial. I have dreamed of going to this memorial since I was four years old. I told Bill a story about how I wanted to sit on Lincoln’s lap, and my father would laugh and say never going to happen. When I was in front of the memorial I understood why. It was huge! There was no way I was getting a photo of little old me sitting on his lap. I was overcome with a wave of emotion in front of this memorial because all of the history it represented.
All of the veterans warmed up as the day progressed. Most of them were eager to tell you their stories about the war. It was amazing hearing the WWII veterans talk about President Roosevelt and how they remembered him. There was a veteran who shared a story about serving in Vietnam six months after his father. Talk about the willingness and dedication to help your country! When we arrived at Arlington Cemetery, Bill told me his father was buried there. I knew he was proud of his father, even though he never said it. You could tell just tell.
Towards the end of the trip Bill finally let me be his guardian. He allowed me to push him in the wheel chair on our way through the airport. All the veterans were surprised when we got back to Clearwater, Florida. They had no idea all those smiling faces were waiting to great them. Bill was so exhausted, but you could tell he really enjoyed himself.
The trip was a very humbling and rewarding experience. It taught me that what I do for the veterans does makes a difference, and to never give up.