‘It’s a spot my dad wanted to come to’: veteran says of WWII memorial

Published: May. 4, 2023 at 3:32 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WASHINGTON, DC (KFYR) - There were no World War II veterans on this year’s Western North Dakota Honor Flight, but many of their sons were along for the trip. When they visited the memorial dedicated to the sacrifice of their fathers, it was a powerful moment.

“Dad said for years when grandpa came back, he wouldn’t talk about the war,” Chery Gegelman said.

Bill Tveit brought his daughter, Chery, on the flight in a bit of a reflection of the trip he took with his own father to revisit the site of the Battle of the Bulge.

“I think one of the most overwhelming things was how the young children would go up to the veterans and just say, thank you,” Bill, a U.S. Army veteran, said.

The trip was healing for his father who served as a tank gunner.

“One day, it was just him and dad walking alone,” Chery explains. “These people came out to thank just him alone and not with a crowd. He finally looked at the tour guide and said, ‘Why are they so grateful? We left everything in such devastation.’ And the tour guide said you can’t have an omelet without breaking the eggs.”

Now, this monument honors the liberation of those communities thanks to their service and sacrifice. But it doesn’t just exist in stone and bronze. It’s alive today, everywhere around them.

“I get emotional when I talk about it because that’s the way it was. When we talk through Washington, D.C. now, it’s an emotional story too,” Bill says recalling the many times the veterans on the Honor Flight were met with praise.

Bill is grateful his dad experienced that welcome before he passed, even if he couldn’t be by his side on this day.

“It’s a spot my dad wanted to come to, and we didn’t get that opportunity,” he said.

Instead, he’s here with the next generation, who is also seeing their sacrifice in a new light.

“I walked through DC today and we got to first see our Declaration of Independence. I got the chills,” Chery said. “That’s why we’re alive. That’s why we’re here.”

They give thanks to those who forged the path they can now walk together.

All Stories From The Honor Flight: