Home » Local News » Veteran impressed by WWII Memorial

Veteran impressed by WWII Memorial

As several hotel rooms booked up for the opening of the World War II Memorial, veteran Bill Carter of Lincolnton received a call telling him where he would be staying.
It was Fort Bellvoir, Va. “I was stationed there in 1944,” he said. “I said, ‘Say that again.’”
Carter was a member of the 30th Infantry Division, 105th Engineers. He was unable to be sent to any battle zones due to surgery.
For Carter, like all of the veterans who attended the opening, the memorial was an honor to the service a generation gave.
“Vietnam veterans were there, too” said Carter’s son-in-law, Jennings Atkinson. “It meant a lot to them. I think they wished they could have been respected like this.”
“The veterans were treated very well,” Carter’s daughter, Sharon Atkinson, said.
Cars were not allowed uptown. Instead 900 buses provided free transportation for the veterans. “Washington was overwhelmed by the veterans who were there,” she said.
Extra security precautions were taken. “There were helicopters circling, snipers on the rooftop, men with machine guns,” said Jennings Atkinson.
Medic tents were set up around the memorial to service veterans. During the time, 112 veterans had to be treated at the tents.
“It was really pitiful to see all of them in wheelchairs and walkers,” Atkinson said. “They all greeted each other and hugged each other,” he said.
“We saw veterans pushing their wives, wives pushing their husbands, sons and grandsons pushing their fathers,” said Carter.
Carter saw four Navajo veterans at the event. Some 473 Navajo were enlisted in WWII because the Germans could not decipher the Navajo language.
Each veteran could put his name, address, and telephone number on a board so that other members of their units might be able to contact them.
Only 9 out of the 90 members of Carter’s division are still alive. They have a reunion every year.
Carter was awed by the displays of patriotism he saw at the memorial. “You would have to see it,” he said, “read all the things written in the granite.”
He saw one man who carried a flag back and forth all day, never letting it drag and touch the ground.
“We have senators who are against the flag amendment in Washington,” he said. “I hope they see that man.”
Among the celebrities Carter and his family saw were Presidents George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. They also saw Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, two of the major supporters of the memorial.
The memorial consists of a Rainbow Pool in the center of the plaza. On the edges are 56 granite pillars representing each state or territory. A wall displays 4,000 gold stars, each representing 100 of the total 400,000 that died.
“It was a beautiful event” said Sharon Atkinson. “We were blessed to be there. There needs to be a memorial to everyone who has died for this country.”
“It just makes you feel like you’ve done your best for your country,” said Carter. “A lot of soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice, but I’m just here.” by Caleb Hawkins

You must be logged in to post a comment Login