YORK -- The National World War II Memorial was built to honor the 16 million men and women who served America in the conflict, but many veterans will never see it.
"A lot of them are so incapacitated physically that they can't get there themselves," said Carroll Moore of York. "They're so strapped financially that they can't go."
Moore, a Navy veteran, wants to change that.
On Sept. 16, Moore watched a television program about a project about how Henderson County, N.C., sent its World War II vets to see the monument. The county raised money and organized flights to take the veterans on a day trip to see the monument at no cost to the veterans.
"I figured it would be a good thing to do for our vets," he said. "Based upon comments I've heard from Hendersonville vets, it was fantastic."
Moore's goal is to learn how many of the 900 World War II veterans in York County are interested in making the trip to Washington, D.C., where the 3-year-old memorial sits between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. He's spent the last few weeks drumming up support.
"I've been in touch with a lot of people," said Moore, rattling off a list that includes U.S. Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and town mayors. Now, he's talking to town councils to spread word about the plan.
So far, people are slowly buying into his vision.
Marshall Whitesides of York served in the Army in World War II. He got a chance to see the memorial when it was dedicated in 2004. Symbolic of the defining event of the 20th century, the memorial is a monument to the spirit, sacrifice and commitment of the American people, those who've seen it say. It features a freedom wall of stars, a pavilion, sculptures and pool on each side representing the European and Pacific fronts in the war.
It was beautiful, Whitesides said.
"If we get a group, I think it would be nice," he said. "I'd like to go back."
Debbie Hubbard with the Veterans Affairs Office in York agreed to be the contact person for veterans who would like to take the trip.
Hubbard is already compiling a list of veterans who are interested and working on finalizing the application process.
But Moore still needs more help.
He's looking for people who are willing to head up everything from pre-departure coordination and ground transit to legal advice and medical care. They also need about 40 people to serve as guardians for the flight. These people will help the disabled veterans get around throughout the day. Guardians will be required to pay $300 for their own flight.
Each flight would take about 100 veterans.
Bill Line of the National Park Service said he has been to the World War II memorial and understands why so many veterans make it a mission to see the monument.
"Most World War II veterans are obviously quite pleased and some are brought to tears when they visit it," Line said. "I think it's kind of a personal mission for many people to come and see it because of what World War II meant to the world, but also what it literally meant to them because they made a contribution."
Veterans who are interested in going on the trip can call Hubbard at 684-8529.
Donations to send veterans to see the World War II Memorial can be mailed to: The American Legion, Greatest Generation Pilgrimage Fund, 722 Burnt Mill Road, Blacksburg, SC 29702.
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