Still 2,800 miles from the World War II memorial in Washington D.C., the 46 veterans of Alaska’s Honor Flight were greeted by cheering rows of Portland police officers Tuesday.
The veterans’ long trip to the East Coast has been punctuated by praise and thanks from law enforcement, fellow travelers and airline employees alike. At Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Alaska Airlines employee Denise Snow sang the national anthem to the emotional group before they boarded their flight south.
“I appreciate what they did,” she said. “It makes me want to cry when I think about what they put themselves through for my country, and I just appreciate that and I want them to know that.”
On the plane to Portland, Homer resident Judith Eckert said her own father — a WWII veteran himself — passed away Friday.
“My heart is just swelling,” said Eckert, who had no idea she’d be traveling alongside 46 other WWII veterans Tuesday. ”I just feel so fortunate to have these incredible men around me.”
But some veterans say it’s difficult to accept all the honors. Norman Elliot led a howitzer unit in Germany more than seven decades ago, and said it’s hard to put into words.
“I think I’m speaking for all of us — I don’t think we deserve it,” Elliot said.