Utah WWII veterans visit memorial built in their honor

WASHINGTON D.C. (ABC 4 Utah) - A group of World War II veterans from Utah had quite an unforgettable day in Washington. They're there as part of the state's first Honor Flight.

WASHINGTON D.C. (ABC 4 Utah) - A group of World War II veterans from Utah had quite an unforgettable day in Washington. They're there as part of the state's first Honor Flight.

On Thursday, the veterans visited the crown jewel of the trip, the World War II Memorial.

“It's remarkable, a beautiful thing,” said George Ziegler, a WWII vet from St. George. “I had no idea I would ever get here.”

It's closure they've waited for for nearly 70 years “It's finally a tribute to those who gave their all,” said Gordon McGavin, a WWII veteran from Salt Lake City. A fitting tribute, marked with none other than gold stars, one for every 100 Americans who never came home. 

"I'm happy they are rembemered and recognized," said Ziegler. "I'm fortunate I was a blue star, but others weren't so fortunate."

The memorial is a place to pay their respects while taking in all that their generation did. “It's what those in WWII did to help preserve the values and principles, often referred to as the greatest generation,” said McGavin. When asked if he thinks of himself that way, McGavin replied, “Not really.”

It's that spirit many say is why it took so long for the memorial to be built, a humble generation refusing to accept credit.

“I had to do my job, we had guys that took my place and got killed,” said Dee Hatch, Loa, Utah WWII vet, and Bronze star winner.

While their caregivers took the vets from site to site, they'll never truly know what the guys saw. The veterans hope they never will.

“It was horrendous, really horrendous,” said Zane Hatch, WWII vet from Aurora, Utah. “Maybe they can come and see what war is all about and they won't have them anymore. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see peace in the world?”

Now there's a place serving as a reminder of the sacrifices one generation made for us all.

“It'll be a memorial that will be remembered for years to come, it'll always be,” said Ziegler.

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