ARLINGTON, Va. (ABC4) – It’s a sea of white and green spread across the hills. Over 400,000 graves line the lawn at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
It’s silent, but in the silence comes lessons of honor, sacrifice, and heroes.
“It should be a reminder to everyone,” said U.S. Army veteran Greg Goddard. “The price that has to be paid for freedom.”
Amidst the rows of the fallen are living heroes.
Seventy-three veterans from Utah, Idaho and Wyoming traveled to the East Coast with Honor Flights to see the war memorials dedicated to their service.
At Arlington, veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars paid tribute to their comrades, shared their stories, and experienced their own recognition.
“I wasn’t happy about it, I got drafted,” said Brent Hatch, a U.S. Army veteran. “Did I have a choice? No. Did I enjoy it? No. Was it a great experience? Yes. A tremendous experience.”
The veterans say through their service they learned lessons. Now, they are sharing what they want America’s youth to know.
“They should know it shouldn’t be black or white or green, they should be Americans,” said Roger Bredsguerd, an Air Force veteran.
“The time may come when we have to defend our country again,” said Larry Petersen, who served in the U.S. Army.
Some shared their messages directly to their children and grandchildren.
“I want my grandson to see the military experience and see the value of our country, to see what our servicemen went through,” Hatch said.
“I hope my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren can enjoy the freedoms that I’ve enjoyed,” said Thomas Lightfoot, who served in the Air Force during the Korean War. “What a great example we have as a nation to set the example.”
Dozens of local High School students lined the walkway of the Air Force Memorial in Virginia, honoring the veterans.
The scene offered the veterans hope that the youth are listening to their stories.
“I’ve learned so much from him,” said Kyson Hayden, Hatch’s grandson. “I would not be the man I am today without him.”